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Travel trailer power inverter setup for boondocking and dispersed RV camping

All over the internet you will find articles, and reviews about RV’s and power inverters. If you are searching for an inverter it can become quite confusing, and very expensive depending on your setup. To determine what size inverter you will need in watts is a simple multiplication formula, amps times volts. Our Keystone is a 30 amp, so 30 amps x 120 volts = 3,600 watts. Plugged into a 30 amp power outlet we can run all normal AC appliances such as the TV, refrigerator, hot water heater, dehumidifier, lap top, and a few plug in air fresheners. If the air conditioner is running we have to turn off the hot water to run the microwave, toaster oven, or coffee pot otherwise if the hot water kicks on it may, and has tripped the main breaker.

We chose a 3000 watt inverter manufactured by SUNGOLDPOWER. We excluded the air conditioner, obviously we don’t have enough batteries, or solar to run it. We also excluded the electric hot water, and refrigerator, anytime we are running off our inverter these are switched over to run on propane. We sized our inverter based on a normal small appliance load, plus being able to run the microwave and coffee pot (sometimes you forget your not in a house and try to run multiple appliances with no second though). We settled on a 3000 watt inverter, playing with the amps times volts formula to figure that’s a 25 amp output on the 120 volt side of the inverter, slightly under what our Passports AC electrical system is designed for. We could have gotten a smaller inverter but many installations with smaller inverters also require, separate transfer switches, battery chargers, MPPT solar controllers, multiple wiring connections, switches, and circuit protectors. We went with a fully self contained grid tie inverter capable of 25 amps AC output, 90 amps of DC battery charging, 60 amps of MPPT solar charging, and switching from grid to invert mode automatically with no disruption to the power supply. This thing is a beast, it weighs 79 pounds and pulls 12 amps DC with no load other than the internal electronics. If it was loaded to the 3000 watt rating it would pull roughly 250 DC amps, and that’s what we fused it for on the battery terminal, although we may step up to a 300 amp terminal fuse to give a little wiggle room and not blow the fuse now that we have replace the deep cycle lead acid batteries with battle born LiFePO4 lithium deep cycle batteries.

This is not a boondocking friendly inverter if you are just looking at the amp draw without a load, to reduce our DC power usage when large AC appliances are not in use we installed a Wagan 400 watt pure sine wave power inverter, and a (DPDT) double pole double throw relay. This inverter powers the small appliances like the TV, dehumidifier, and plug in air fresheners with no problem and only uses about 7 DC amps to do it.

The circuitry goes like this, 120 volts is supplied to the factory 30 amp shore plug, either by an electrical grid power source, or our 3100 watt champion generator. This wire was disconnected from the factory WFCO converter main breaker, it was ran up to the underbay where our inverter is mounted and terminated to the input breaker of the inverter. The 120 volts then comes through the inverters transfer switch either as line voltage or inverter voltage, goes out the output breaker to the DPDT relay, activates the 120 volt coil closing the normally open contacts and sending the 120 volts back to the WFCO converter panels main breaker and powers all outlets in our travel trailer. If we are boondocking then the big inverter stays in standby mode, the DPDT relay is in the normally closed position and the smaller 400 watt inverter supplies 120 volts to the WFCO main breaker. From the factory the WFCO power converter charger was sharing a breaker with the TV, we installed it on a separate breaker and keep it turned off. You do not want the converter powered from the batteries, this causes a loop loss and will drain your batteries for no reason.

We purchased the Renogy 200 watt solar kit with the standard wanderer controller. The panels were great but the controller not so much so we knew we would probably want to upgrade it in the future. The MPPT charge controller built into our inverter allows us to expand up to 1200 watts worth of solar panels, we have added a plug so we can hook our 100 watt Renogy suitcase panel up to provide a total of 300 watts of solar power. In full sun conditions we will get 15 amps charge from our three panels, during the day when we are out and about not using much power this will recharge our batteries no problem. With the 90 amp charger that is built into our inverter we can fully recharge dead batteries in about two hours, that greatly reduces generator usage in the event we use a lot of power due to cloudy days or just using more power for things. With the WFCO converter from the factory we had to run the generator for about eight hours and still did not get a full recharge on our lead acid batteries.

We wired our inverter with 0000 gauge welding cable, the reason we used such a large wire was voltage drop. 12 volt DC is prone to voltage loss, with our wiring being so large and under five feet we have less than one volt of voltage drop. This is important with recharging the batteries quickly and the inverter getting the power output from the batteries it needs running large loads like the microwave.

Our set up does have one minor quirk, and we have not yet decided on an action plan yet. if we are plugged in, such as when we stay in a campground with hook ups with the air conditioner running, if the pedestal looses power the inverter will swap over to invert mode and the 250 amp DC fuse will blow. This is good otherwise the air conditioner would drain our batteries dead in minutes. Right now when using full hook ups we keep the 3000 watt inverter on standby, line voltage priority, it shuts down when shore power is not available and our camper loses the 120 volts. We keep the 400 watt inverter manually turned off when hooked up. We have considered installing another breaker panel just for items like the air conditioner, and hot water to only have power when shore power is available. We feel this would be going overboard, it would be fairly simple to do but the need considering it’s a rarity does not justify the time or the cost. We keep the refrigerator on auto so if 120 volts is lost it will swap to propane, everything else loosing power for awhile if we are away is not a big deal, we can always reset the microwave clock when the power is back on.

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Bird Island Park and Rookery and Mickler’s Landing

A little north of Valano and Mickler’s Landing, and of all places, behind a library, is a little place called Bird Island Park. There’s a shrubbery maze shaped like a giant turtle. There’s a path around the park with a mosaic of beautiful tiles, a colorful turtle statue, and a fountain.

Beautiful tiles
Turtle maze

There’s a playground and a boardwalk around a pond. There are fish, turtles of all kinds, and ducks in the pond. On the side closest to the library is the tree “rookery”. It was full of adult and juvenile Anhingas. There are benches behind the library to sit and read and enjoy watching the birds.

Egret
Small heron
Geese
Anhinga next to the water
One of many Anhingas in the trees
More Anhingas
One of the resting benches
Another bench
Fountain
Outside the library
Soft shell turtle

This is a quiet place right behind a busy street. Just driving by, you might not notice unless you watch for the signs. It is well worth a visit and it’s free. It’s a wonderful place for peaceful reflection and bird and turtle watching. We highly recommend checking it out. Before leaving the area, if you like seashells, you should stop by Mickler’s Landing Beach. They have nice restrooms and showers there as well.

Mickler’s Landing has plenty of shells.

Days 3, 4, and 5 of AT hike

We’d like to thank all of you for virtually following along on the flip flop hike along the AT on our YouTube channel. So far, it’s been agreeable weather and decent terrain.

Maryland in 5 days may not be a big feat for some, but for us, it’s a dream come true. We hope you will enjoy this pictorial of these 3 days. Stay tuned for Pennsylvania coming up next.

The gear is holding up nicely, including the hammock and tarp, sleeping bag and shoes (chacos). We’ll post a gear review when he reaches Maine so everyone will know how it’s held up to that point.

Enjoy the pictures and thank you for following along on this epic journey across the Appalachian Trail.

DAY 3:

Rocky Cliffs View
7 trees, 1 base
Why they call me The Butterfly Whisperer
Home for the night, behind the shelter in the hammock
Trail meals. Ramen and chicken
Trail magic provided by a trail angel to a thirty hiker.

DAY 4:

Reno Monument
Deer, part of the abundant wildlife
Washington Monument
View atop the monument

DAY 5:

Trail magic left by a fellow hiker

Thanks so much for following along. Since I’m in the Sunshine State while hubby is on the trail, I’ll be have some mini adventures of my own to report. Stay tuned for those and more updates from the AT.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see the trail up close and personal. We appreciate all of our blog followers and I’ll post a sandy adventure very soon.

Days 1 and 2 on the Appalachian Trail Flip Flop

Those of you that follow us on Facebook and Instagram have seen a couple of pictures from hubby’s first 2 days in Maryland as he hikes northward on his flip flop hike. For those who are wondering what a flip flop hike is, he starts at the halfway point of the trail (Harper’s Ferry, WV) and hikes north to Katadin, Maine. Then, he will drive from Maine back to WV and hike south to the approach trail on GA.

If it works out as planned, he will arrive in GA in November or December. This route seems ideal for the times of year he’ll be in each place. He had to change his original plans of GA to ME when everything shut down.

We want to encourage you to check us out on YouTube, where we will be posting videos as often as he has the cell service or wifi to do so. So far, days 1 and 2 are up. Look for Southeastern RV Living and watch them. Subscribe so you don’t miss any in the future. I will be posting blogs as he goes along too, so we can share some pictures with you. I will be posting other blogs about other adventures as well.

Day 1: Harper’s Ferry. A sort walk from WV into Maryland. Some beautiful scenery leading to the Ed Garvey shelter.

The Potomac
Cliffs view

Day 2: Gathland State Park

Gath’s empty tomb
Athens, Ga in Maryland?

We hope you enjoy virtually walking the Appalachian Trail and it’s pictorial history. Thank you so much for following along.

Waterfalls in Florida?

It’s true; there really are waterfalls in the Sunshine State. Some are man made, like the Japanese gardens close to Jupiter Beach. Others are naturally occurring waterfalls. With things shut down for awhile, we haven’t been able to visit Devils Millhopper State Park, a geological marvel created by a large sinkhole. It should be open by July. We were able to visit a county park, a little hidden gem near Lake City, in Columbia County. It’s called Falling Creek Falls. The waterfall is about 10 feet tall, but it’s still a beautiful site. The water here is the color of tea due to tannins from things like acorns. The path to waterfall overlook is a short quarter mile (seemed like less) over a wooden boardwalk. The park has restrooms and picnic tables. There’s a historic church there was well. It’s boarded up, so only the outside is available for photo ops. The surrounding area has several state parks including Big Shoals, the only class III rapids in Florida on the Suwannee River. It hadn’t been raining much, so we’ll save that long trek for another day. We certainly encourage a stop in Lake City to explore this unique waterfall at Falling Creek.

Falling Creek Falls
Boardwalk to Falls
Old church. Picnic shelter in background

More to come

Thank you to all our readers and followers. We are trying our best to get back out there and explore after the recent events. We hope everyone is staying safe and doing well. We know it has been frustrating for most of us that enjoying traveling. We will be making some updates to our website in the coming weeks and getting out to the Florida State parks to hike and bike. We will be keeping up social distancing practices while trying to explore nature and sharing it with you. If we see any good camping opportunities, we will be sure to pass that along. Anyone else out there venturing out safely, please feel free to share what you find fun to explore. Be safe while continuing to find adventure. Keep your eyes peeled for exciting things to come. 20200507_205456

Nombre De Dios (Our Lady of La Leche) Mission

During this trying time for everyone, come along with us on a short little day trip. We are traveling less these days, and our plans have changed. The AT hike is on hold, and our weekend trips to parks have been shut down. To all who are full-timers, we sincerely hope that you are lucky like us and have some friends who will let you stay in their yard.

Diesel is cheap at the moment, so we just decided to take a Sunday drive to see the historic downtown St. Augustine in all its historic beauty with no crowds or cars. While driving around, we noticed that the gates to the mission were open. We had wanted to walk around this historic place anyway, so we jumped at the chance to do it with very few people.

The Nombre de Dios Mission, also known locally as Our Lady of La Leche, is the oldest mission here. If you’ve ever been to St. Augustine, or driven over the bridge from Vilano, you’ve seen a giant cross looming at the horizon. This marks the spot (general) claimed by Pedro Menendez for Spain and the church in 1565. The main building (the new mission) was closed and so was the gift shop, but the grounds were what we came to explore anyway.

There are several statues erected to Spanish/Catholic Saints, including Francisco Lopez, (whose monument is registered under historic places), and Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). We’d like to encourage you to click on the pictures individually so you can read the rich history of this place.

Throughout the grounds, there are large monuments dedicated to different people and there are tombstones dating back through the 1800’s, including Union soldiers from the Civil War. There are also some sisters of the original mission buried on the premises.

For those who are not familiar with the Spanish Catholics, they give special devotion to the Mother Mary. There is a beautiful Shrine to her in the middle of the property. It’s the 4th one erected. The first 3 were destroyed by war, fire, or hurricanes. The “newest” was built in 1918. It is open when the gates are, and anyone can go in a sit down or kneel at the front altar. There are also candles that can be lit by appointment. There is also a couple of very pretty fountains throughout.

Whether you’re Catholic, Protestant, Agnostic, or anything in between, this is a nice place to just sit at one of the many benches and reflect on blessings or happy thoughts. It’s right next to the bay (Matanzas), as seen the the above pictures, making it a perfect setting for peaceful tranquility. It was a nice thing to experience during this tough time that we are all having.

If you’d like to visit, they are closed to the public right now, but they have an online store for tokens and rosaries; or you can buy a candle for them to light with a request for prayer. They will also be holing Easter Mass online. Of you’re not interested in the gift shop or sanctuary, go on by and just walk the grounds. We enjoy looking at the ancient tombstones and sitting by the bay.

We hope you and yours will have a Happy Easter and a great spring. We’ll all get back out there soon and begin exploring again. Thank you to all our readers for sticking with us.

Pirate Museum in St Augustine, FL

As “locals”, we get the luxury of using the Local Flavor app for deals on tickets to get into different places. Most of the time, it’s 2 for 1 deals. This was the case for the pirate museum. We enjoy a lot of things pirate, hence our travel trailer. We named it the “Satisfaction” after a ship that belonged to Captain Morgan. We are contemplating naming our next travel trailer (hopefully one that we will have for many years to come) “Davy Jones’ Locker”. The museum is loaded with factual and fictional pirates, a lot of which have a significant tie to St. Augustine.

As you enter the museum, you will see examples of navigation tools used by the pirate (and others’) ships in the 1500’s and 1600’s. You’ll learn about cartographers, who were very talented individuals who made maps of the land and waterways. You’ll see examples of pirate weapons and surgical tools like those used to cauterize wounds.

Rogue’s Tavern, a popular pirate hangout, made some interesting mixed drinks, like Blackbeard’s favorite, the “Kill Devil”, consisting of rum and gunpowder. Sir Francis Drake and Robert Searles never met in real life, but they both did horrible raiding to St. Augustine that left marks on its history. Drake burned everything to the ground in St. Augustine in 1586. He was sanctioned by Queen Elizabeth to raid Spanish ships. Drake was known as “El Draque”, or, “The Dragon”, one of St. Augustine’s most hated pirates.

Robert Searles is the reason the fort Castillo San Marco is built out of coquina after his 1668 raid, where he kidnapped and killed every St. Augustinian that wasn’t “pure blood”.

Andrew Ranson made a unique name for himself after he survived the garrote rope broke at his execution. He was protected the rest of his days by friars who said the rope breaking was an “act of God”. He ended up helping Castillo defeat the English.

Thomas Bell died before they could hang him at the gallows at Castillo, where he would’ve been put on display. They would hang pirates and put them on display outside the fort for other ships to see they did not take kindly to acts of piracy.

Henry Jennings captured a St. Augustine fort and took the largest Spanish treasure, making him the richest pirate in history.

Nicholas De Grammont may be the reason the Castillo was finished in 1690 without interruption, but his fate was doomed after he raided the city when his ships got caught in a hurricane.

Louis Aury captures Amelia Island and made himself governor.

Each captain had a set of rules known as the “Articles of Piracy”. If the contract was broken, it usually meant death. There are examples of different sailor knots and a replica of a cannon that you can test fire. There is also an example of how pirates told time, the hourglass. There are examples of several pirate flags, but there only 2 still in existence. The most popular is the Jolly Roger. In French, it was “Jolie Rouge”, which means “Pretty Red”, which is the color the flag used to be. Now, it’s black with the skull and crossbones, likely from what gravestones had on them.

There is a replica of a chest belonging to Captain William Kidd. You can see an example of the classic book “Bucaniers of America” by Alexander Esquemelin, read by Blackbeard himself. There are replicas of different types of gallows that the pirates would be “hanged by the neck until dead, dead, dead”

Democracy was a big part of the life on a pirate ship. They voted on the captain. Treasure was divided up equally among the crew except the Quarter Master and the Captain’s shares that were higher. They took up donations and gave money to crew members and their families who were disabled.

The oldest wanted poster dates back to 1696, and you can see it framed in the museum. Henry Every is another pirate that is historically represented. Charles Gibbs came up with the famous phrase, “Dead mean tell no tales”.

Most people have heard of Calico Jack, since his flag in particular is the one most widely recognized. When we fly ours, we are reminded of his 2 shipmates, the pirate women that were saved by proclaiming their bellies so they wouldn’t go to the gallows. These 2 women are Mary Read and Anne Bonny. They held their own out on the high seas as pirates. Anne Bonnie was Calico Jack’s girlfriend, but she was not pleased with him getting caught. Her last words to him were, “Had you fought like a man, you need not be hanged like a dog”.

Other pirates and/or flags represented are John Dalton, Edward Low, Black Bart, and Samuel Tully. There are examples and historic research listed about different forms of torture and punishment from the pirate era. There are skull and crossbones stickers on drawers that you can pull out and mark what’s in them on a treasure map. When you have filled it out, give it to the personnel at the end of your tour for your very own piece of pirate treasure.

Take 5 minutes to sit in a room to listen to an interactive ship ride with some famous pirates close to Port Royal, Jamaica. Touch a 400 year old chest. Read about Henry Morgan and Blackbeard as you look at many types of pirate treasure. See for yourself, the only remaining real pirate treasure chest that belonged to Thomas Tew.

After strolling through history, check out the displays of movie and TV pirates. They have memorabilia from Peter Blood, Long John Silver, Morgan the Pirate, and the Goonies. They have Captain Hook’s hook on display. (You can see the alligator Tik-Tok that swallowed Captain Hook’s hand on display at the Alligator Farm). Take a gander at Captain Jack Sparrow’s sword and Captain Balbosa’s guns from Pirates of the Caribbean.

This little gem of a museum is the perfect way to spend a couple hours of your trip in downtown St. Augustine. It’s in the perfect location, directly across from the Castillo San Marcos fort, the city gates, and the Colonial Quarter (the latter of which we still have to visit). If you’re interested in history or pirates, or even St. Augustine, this is worth a look-see while you’re here.

Washington Gardens State Park

One of our “resolutions” for 2020 is to go to a different park every Sunday. One such park is Washington Gardens State Park in Flagler County, FL. This is a beautiful State Park that costs just $5 per vehicle to enter. It’s no secret that Florida has warmer temperatures in the winter, but it’s still a grand site to walk through a blooming rose garden at the end of January.

The park, like most of the parks along A1A, is on both sides of the road, the surf side, and the inlet side. The coastal side has a different type of walkway down to the beach. It.s not a typical boardwalk, but it looks like some type of tracks. It’s not made for bare feet, but it is great for getting all the sand off your shoes before getting back in your car.

The inlet side is where the majority of the park is. The gardens are handicap accessible and an easy walk. Walk through a path surrounded by towering ancient oak trees draped with Spanish moss. Sit a spell in one of the benches by the Matanzas River before circling back through the museum and garden.

There’s interesting reading about the history of the home place, gardens and maritime hammock.

Take your time and stroll through the beauty garden. All sorts of roses and azaleas and exotic flowering plants adorn your walk. There are several fountains and ponds with koi. Take a selfie or two in the gazebo.

We highly recommend this park anytime you’re in the Flagler area. It’s a great way to spend a Sunday, or any day for that matter.

Marineland at Christmas

Forgive us for not blogging in a little while. We have been traveling and working on our YouTube channel. Feel free to go check it out and subscribe. We wanted to do something fun for Christmas eve, so we got tickets for general admission to Marineland Dolphin Adventure. At $22 a ticket, some might think it’s a little steep for what all it there. We got to watch people swim with the dolphins (a very short one line swim). If you want to experience that, it’s an extra $100. I don’t think we’ll be doing it, but it was fun to watch.

We got to experience a little extra delight since it was Christmas. They were having a contest for the best Christmas tree. The ornaments were made from recycled things like water bottles and other handmade items to bring awareness to certain things.

Among the things to see, for sure, are the dolphins. The staff is very knowledgeable and entertaining. For more on that, you can check out our YouTube video. The dolphins play, swim, and jump, but if you’re not being real attentive, you may miss their jumps. We got lucky and have photos.

They also have sharks in dark water, so you have to look closely to be sure you don’t miss them. There also sea turtles and a very nice overlook. We happened to go during a Nor’Eastern, so it was very windy. We had our tickets, so we weren’t letting that hold us back. Thankfully, it was just rough winds, but no rain. That had finally stopped just before our trip.

There are lots of signs with a plethora of information. If you have the money to spend, a dolphin encounter might be up your alley. You can even get a couple of them to paint for you. This might be something we would enjoy someday too. We recommend Marineland if you enjoy sea life, especially dolphins. Please enjoy all the photos we took. We hope they will made you feel like you were there with us. Thank you for taking a stroll through the Holiday trees and signage with us, and catching a glimpse of a double dolphin jump.

Be sure to click on the pictures individually so you can read all the information if you wish to learn all the stuff we discovered on our trip. Thank you so much for reading our blog and keeping up with us. See you on our next adventure very soon.

Florida Water Tour, Nights of Lights

We celebrate the holidays a little different in Florida. No snow, no freezing cold weather, just lots of fun in the sun and in the moon light too, as you will see here. It was the perfect night for a boat tour. The weather was nice, but for those who are still a tad bit cold natured, they offer free hot chocolate on the trip as well as blankets to wrap up in. If you want something a little stronger, for $5 you can get a shot of Irish Cream in your cocoa. There’s also beer/wine for sale. We went on the 7:45 pm tour, which is mainly for adults. It was a wonderful ride and our tour guide, Kevin was super nice and entertaining. The captain, Mike, did a wonderful job and was a good side kick to Kevin. Our “bartender” Riley was very friendly. The entire crew was a joy to ride with. You get your pick of 3D glasses to look through the lights at to see different shapes. I chose candy canes, and as a experiment, I tried taking a picture through the glasses. You can see the candy canes in one of the pictures.

We recommend Florida Water Tour to anyone who wants to have a nice, entertaining, and informative tour. They offer more tours than the Nights of Lights, but we wanted to see the lights of St. Augustine from the water. This tour is well worth it. Please enjoy our pictures as well as our YouTube video of the entire ride. Kudos to the crew and Florida Water Tours. It was great. We even saved 15% on our check at KingFish Grill by letting them know we took the tour. You can’t miss this restaurant, it’s right next to dock A19, where you get on the boat. Come along and enjoy the ride with us, and go for your own tour, whether in the winter with the lights, or in the summer with the dolphins.