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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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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.

Things to do in Chattanooga, TN

There are so many fun things to see and do in Chattanooga, and even though we were there for 2 days, we didn’t get to do them all. We opted out of seeing Rock City and Ruby Falls, only because we’ve been there before. We recommend if you are in the area, you should certainly go see them, along with the Tennessee Aquarium.

Our “home” for those two nights was a State Park just outside of Chattanooga – Harrison Bay. It was absolutely beautiful, and at $22 a night, not a bad deal for a state park. There are water and electric hook ups, but not sewer, as with most state parks. There is a dump station on the way out. We wish we had time to explore the park more, but we were pressed for time. It’s on our list to go back to for sure. They have a small bird habitat with 3 disabled birds. It is a very nice park with lots of paths to walk on too.

Our first trip was to the Tennessee Valley Railroad and Museum. The museum was very interesting. There were several locomotives, box cars, and cabooses for people to walk in. Each one has their own signage. One in particular can even be rented out for birthday parties. The train ride is fun but short. It’s an antique steam engine originating from Alaska. The trip takes you 15 minutes to the depot where you get out and watch the turn table demonstration (where they turn the train engine around). Then, you tour the workshop where they repair the cars and engines. On your way back to get on the return trip, you can stop in and get a cookie or an ice cream flavor make specifically for the train station (small cup for a large price). All in all, it is worth the tour at the TVRR. Click below to see a short video of the turntable demonstration.

Our next adventure started on the Incline Railway. It’s over a hundred years old. It takes you from Elmo Street, at over a 72 percent grade straight up to Lookout Mountain. It’s powered by pulleys, so as one is going up, the other trolley must be coming down as  a counter balance. It’s very steep, so you will want to hold on to your seat and check out the views as you climb up.

At the top of the mountain (Lookout Mountain), we went to the Civil War Museum and watched a 30 minute presentation of the Battles of Chattanooga: the Battle Above the Clouds, Moccasin Bend, Tennessee River, and Missionary Ridge. We videoed the entire presentation. You can watch it here. We apologize for the darkness of the video (the quality), but the room where they play it is dark. If you are a history buff, maybe you will enjoy it.

 

 

After the museum, our main reason for going up was to see P oint Park. This is part of the National Park Service and you can get your America the Beautiful pass here if you want. It’s $8 to enter the park, and there is either a person there to help you with that or a kiosk that takes debit cards. The entire walk around the park has jaw dropping views. We tried to picture how it was back in the 1800’s before all the development in the valley below. It’s so hard to picture nothing but mountains and trees beneath because of the modern roads and buildings. There is a large war monument for all veterans here and several cannons. There is a museum here with lots of things to read that are full of information about Tennessee and the Battles of Chattanooga. Tennessee was a border state, not supporting the North or the South, but there were sympathizers for both sides in the state. Ultimately, the state was won for the Union. We can’t imagine how these battles were fought so high up, utterly above the clouds. Whether history interests you or not, this park is worth a visit just to see the awesome views.

There are so many thing in and around Chattanooga, and it’s all family friendly fun. Ruby Falls has a parking area for RVs, so you may want to get there early if you need to park your “home” there. We wanted to go several other places, so we really are glad we chose to stay at Harrison Bay State Park and drive to all the places in our truck. We thank you all for subscribing to our YouTube channel. We have several new videos coming. Thank you for you liking and following our blog, and our Facebook and Instagram pages. We really appreciate all your support. We hope you enjoyed coming along on our Chattanooga journey and are looking forward to the next adventure. Thank you for joining us.

Dollywood

This past weekend we joined the masses at the famous Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN. A word to the wise, if you can avoid going on a weekend, please do so. It was packed! We were there mainly for the luminights. They were very pretty, but there was so many people, it was hard to try to maneuver around to see them all. And the rides? Looooong lines, some waiting over an hour. We rode the coal fired train that goes around the park, the merry go round, the water log ride, 1 roller coaster and saw a magic show. That took all day! Then the lights began at 7pm and the park closed at 9. Going on the weekend just didn’t seem worth the money. We were lucky because we got 2 free tickets thanks to being associated with Southern Highlands attractions via the NOC. But for a regular family (4 adults and 1 child) it’ll run you nearly $400 to get in! The children’s ticket price ends at age 10, so above that is the $74 adult price. Be prepared to spend more when you get inside the park. You can buy a souvenir cup for $14, then refill it the rest of the day for 99 cents each time. Yikes. And if you bring in a last year’s cup, it $4 a refill. We opted for free ice water. At least that’s an option. You’re allowed to bring in 1 drink as well. So, if you bring in a water bottle, look for the water fountains to refill it. And parking? What a nightmare. Its $15 to park in the lower areas and catch the trolley up. We opted to pay a little extra and reserve a preferred parking spot for $24. It’s a lot closer and short walk to get in. They also have valet parking for $34, but we weren’t that sophisticated. Waiting to get out into the street is worse than trying to leave a packed out concert.

Aside from the crowds and breaking the bank, it is a nice place if you like big roller coasters. If you go though, we recommend during the week. Some of the rides, including the train, still run at night, so that a unique experience. Taking our time to explore all the lights would’ve been better too. They have the pumpkin luminights until Nov. 2, then they have the Christmas ones. I can’t really say one way or the other if I would recommend Dollywood. It’s hard to judge by others’ individual tastes. We probably won’t go back, especially since our time with Southern Highlands has ended. But if you’ve got time to kill and money to burn, it might be a fun time for you. We hope you enjoy the pictures we took and a short video of the magic show (below) and soon we will post a video of the lights on our YouTube channel. We’re on the road now, so give us a couple of weeks to get the video up. Thank you for your support and for following along on our travel adventures. 20191005_13161120191005_13585020191005_14000020191005_17255320191005_17255820191005_17262120191009_12355920191005_18492920191005_19362320191005_19362520191005_20154420191014_161310Resized_20191006_105721

Getting Ready to Travel

We’ve spent another great summer in western North Carolina. We saw waterfalls, went on some good hikes,  saw several fun amusements and camped at some beautiful places. We’ve been coming here to this area of NC for the last 3 years, and sadly, we still have not seen it all. There is so much to see. It’s known as the land of the waterfalls and we’ve seen maybe one third of them. But when working seasonally, that’s what happens. We are lucky to be able to live this wonderful lifestyle and to be able to go exploring on our days off.

We’ve had ups and downs this season. We lost our beloved Samantha, our 15 year old camp kitty who took to our new lifestyle and seemed to enjoy it just like us. We later got a 4 month old kitten, we lovingly call Angel. She has taken to the RV lifestyle wonderfully. She has learned to walk with harness and leash and is so well behaved on road trips We discovered a lot of new activities thanks to Southern Highlands Attractions, a perk from working at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. We hope that our next seasonal adventure will have something similar.

We have made some wonderful lifetime friends. We are lucky that most of them travel and we will be sure our paths will cross again along our journeys. They helped us transition into this lifestyle and calmed some of my fears I have about people. Living with PTSD is a struggle but thanks to people who understand that, I don’t have to be afraid of everyone. This RV life has helped me cope with it better than I could have just sitting in a house and not going anywhere. We certainly made the right decision to travel.

We will come back to WNC someday, but for now, it’s time to try something new. We will be in our favorite winter spot in FL again this winter, but 2020 will bring some changes. While I will remain in FL and be the editor for our YouTube channel, hubs will be hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. He will be videoing his journey as I help bring it to you all. Once he is off the AT in the fall of 2020, our journey will begin again in the RV. We have to do some research to figure out exactly where we will land and what sort of seasonal work we will do, but rest assured, it will be fun and full of adventure.

Thank you so much to all our friends here in WNC, we will miss you but we will make plans to see you again along this epic RV adventure. We will always keep in touch and you can always see on our blog and YouTube channel exactly what we’re up to. We are truly grateful to you for being our friends. Thank you to all our loyal readers as well for following along with us on our journey and we will continue to bring you along on our adventures everywhere we go.

As you all have read before, we always go through our camper and figure out what we no longer need to carry around. This year has been particularly hard to decide on a few things. Our truck is filled to its gills with things. The camper is easier to go through because I’m in it everyday. We know we have to have the tools for all sorts of things, but there are other items that we just kind of scratch our heads about. What all do you take with you everywhere you go and what do you think you can live without? Drop us a comment and let us know. Maybe it will help us move along in the truck purging process.

We will continue to post more of our WNC adventures coming up soon. And we will keep you all posted on our travels south for the winter. Thank you for the memories, the fun and lifelong friendships WNC. Onward we go, traveling and discovering more of what nature has in store.20190903_133538

Birthday Trip: Eastatoe Falls,Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock, Slick Rock, Ash Grove, and Bridal Veil Falls

This year’s birthday trip was a hot one. The first day wasn’t so bad because all the waterfalls we saw were roadside or just a short walk. The first one we came to was on private property in Rosman, NC. They graciously let people park behind their house in a designated area and walk to the falls. You can see the falls from the parking area, so it’s not a long walk. There are rumors afloat that they are thinking of closing it off to the public now. After visiting, we could see why. There were people in their swimwear, hanging out and digging around with plastic shovels in the falls. This is disrespectful to the land owners and the critters that make the waterfall their home. A short walk, some pictures, and a walk back to leave is what they accommodate, not swimming (and being parked in their backyard) for hours and disturbing the salamanders (some are endangered in the area, called hellbenders), and the other small water critters. We recommend this falls for sure, but please be respectful of the landowners and their generosity. Maybe they won’t close it to the public before others get to enjoy it. You will travel on the Blue Ridge Parkway some of the time, so be sure to take time and enjoy the overlooks. The GPS got us there just fine, but some people may not know which side road to take. It’s called Mountain Meadow. Follow the signs to the parking area and walk the short distance to the falls. 20190903_12310220190903_12333220190903_13461920190903_13425320190903_13395120190903_13362520190903_13360020190903_133538From there we went to Brevard, our destination for the next couple of days. We stopped at Looking Glass Falls first. It was giving that name because of the way it looks in winter when it freezes. It’s pretty in the summer too. There’s a small area for parallel parking. There is a picnic table and viewing platform. The way down to get a close up view of the falls is made of several steps, but they are not steep. It was rather warm that day and there were several people wading around in the little “pool” beneath the falls. This waterfall is one of the prettiest on our list. 20190903_14330420190903_14363720190903_14354420190903_144042From Looking Glass Falls, we followed the signs to Sliding Rock. It was the day after Labor Day, so it was good and bad. The good was the fee period for this park was over, but the bad was the concession stand/information booth was closed for the season. There were several people here, all lined up to slide down this rock. It’s a great looking natural water slide, and on a 90 degree day, the 55 degree water would be refreshing. I’m not sure when the lines are no longer forming, but that day was not one of them. We didn’t wait our turn in line because we had other places to go and camp to check in to. I sure would like to go back a “go for it” though. 20190903_14585020190903_14595320190903_15022120190903_15461020190903_150241From Sliding Rock we went on to Slick Rock Falls. (All of these waterfalls are in the same general area, and we found out later, there was a couple that we missed). Slick Rock is up from Looking Glass Falls on a Forest Service Road. It is easy to see from the road, but there’s just a couple of large rocks to climb over to reach the bottom of the falls. If you want to hike, there is a short trail that goes around the large rocks. There is also another waterfall on this road, about a quarter mile away called Jackson Falls. It has several other names, but that’s the most common. You can see it from the road through foliage, but there is a trail that leads to it. We didn’t learn of the trail until we had left to go to camp, so we only had pictures through the trees. There are designated camping areas along this road, but we are not sure for how much longer due to people leaving trash in the area. Everyone, please remember to pack in and pack out. 20190903_152759Resized_20190903_15454020190903_15445820190903_153835On our way to camp we stopped in at the Pisgah Ranger Station/Visitor Center. They have a lot of good information about all the waterfalls and hiking trails in the area. Brevard is known as The Land of the Waterfalls, and we can see why that’s true. There are several we have seen and blogged about over the last couple of years (like Whitewater Falls and Courthouse, etc.), but there are many we have yet to see. There is also a nice little gift shop here with many books, maps, stickers, t-shirts, and more. We did not have time to visit the Cradle of Forestry here, but we will go back to see it. It’s a $6 fee to get in, but there are a lot of interesting things to see.
Our campground for the night was called Ash Grove Mountain Cabins and Camping. It was a very nice, quiet place. Our quarters were called the Elf Shelf. It’s basically a 3 sided shelter like you might see on the AT. There is a platform that you can lower down from the rear wall that gives you a raised area to sleep. You will probable want to bring an air mattress unless you have a good sleep pad because the surface is just plywood. There is a privacy curtain, but it won’t keep out the critters of the night, so if you have food, leave it in your car or have a bear canister. They do not have a bear issue here, but they do have raccoons. We didn’t see any because we have a bear canister for our food, but we did hear some owls “fussing” at each other. It was a neat experience, as I have never heard owls “argue” before. It was quite humorous. After that, there was only a lone “hoot” every now and then. But we love those woodland sounds. The bath house here is very clean and had a really large shower area. The owners of the campground are very friendly and we liked it so much we will go back. We may stay in one of their cabins the next time, or the little hut known as the “Gnome Home”. They have a laundry area, a place to wash your dishes and some hiking trails that are like strolls through the woods, nothing strenuous. If you like quite little campgrounds, we certainly recommend this place. They also have places for RV hook-ups. There is no cell service, but the office has a courtesy phone and wifi. Check them out at the link below (you may need to copy and paste it):

https://www.ash-grove.com/

20190903_20004320190903_20375420190903_20462320190904_10263920190904_10265720190904_092326After a decent night’s sleep, we checked out and started out for our main event. We drove to the High Falls Visitor Center to hike to Bridal Veil Falls. You may recognize that name from the Highlands waterfalls, but this one is in the Dupont Forest. There is another place to hike to it at the Fawn Lake Access area, but the High Falls trail is all flat. The down side is there is zero shade on this trail because it’s a gravel road all the way. It was way too hot to go on this hike, but we sweated through it. It’s 2.2 miles one way, so 4.4 miles round trip. It would have been much better if we had went in the fall. It was a 90 degree day. Whew! There are other waterfalls here such as High Falls, Triple Falls, and Hooker Falls a little further out. You can walk 7 miles round trip if you want to hit High Falls and Triple Falls if you were up for the challenge. Hooker Falls is another trail altogether. There is also an old Airstrip you can take a trail to and a barn trail. The barn is on the Bridal Veil Falls road as you get closer to the falls where you can refill your water bottles. There is also a 3 Lakes Trail that takes you to 3 hidden lakes. I guess they call them hidden because they are in the middle of the forest. We had planned on taking this trail but thanks to the supreme heat, we only saw the biggest of the 3, Lake Julia. It would have been wonderful if we could have went for a dip, but we were on a bit of a time schedule. I would recommend taking some swim clothes to take time to cool off here if you do go when it’s hot weather. The sun beaming down just wears you out faster and it’s good to relax.

You may remember these falls from the movie The Last of the Mohicans and also from the Hunger Games. Both were filmed here. The movie showed a wall of water, so it may have been filmed from the upper section. The bottom section of the falls is made up of several “trickles” over the rock. After a good rain storm, the entire rock might become a larger falls, but it would take a big storm for sure. It was an interesting experience, and the hike is not strenuous, but just watch out for the heat. It was a struggle for me to finish, but I made it. Hubs didn’t have any trouble, but he works in the heat. We are planning on going back to hike to the other falls, but in cooler weather. 20190904_15251920190904_15263220190904_15295820190904_17261820190904_13241720190904_12351620190904_14325220190904_14244520190904_14234620190904_14262020190904_142346It was an interesting but hot birthday trip, but we had fun and we hope you had fun reading about it. Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel. There will be more videos coming soon.

2 Days, Triple “Peaks”: Grandfather Mountain, The Blowing Rock, and Chimney Rock

Our first stop for the day was supposed to be Linville Falls, but rain and lots of fog deterred our hike. We will have to save that one for another day. We continued on our journey to Grandfather Mountain. We had made these plans ahead around work schedules, so we had to do what we could. It was quite foggy at Grandfather, but at least it wasn’t crowded.

Grandfather Mountain is the highest peak in the Blue Ridge mountains at 5945 ft. It was too foggy to take most of the hikes, but they are listed a strenuous, so I’m not sure how many of them we would have done anyway. There is one inside the park called the Woods Walk that is listed as easy, but we didn’t take it because it was so foggy.

On the way in, they give you a CD to listen to, sort of like a guided tour, but we don’t have  a CD player in our truck. Our first stop was a place called the Split Rock. It’s close to their fudge shop (which we didn’t go into). There is a parking area there for you to walk the Woods Walk and check out the Split Rock. The fog didn’t prohibit us from driving to the summit, and along the way, we saw the famous “Forest Gump” curve, where Tom Hanks ran in the movie for a whole 30 second clip.

The next stop before the top is the Wildlife Encounter Area. You will see signs here with times for the next encounters, but they only happen on weekends. During the week, you just spot the animals on your own. Here, I would like to point out that there are signs clearly posted that the Eagles are very timid around people and to please keep quiet. In other words, please tell your children not be loud and scare the animals so others can enjoy the park. It’s understandable if they are excited, but sometimes you have to account for all the others around you who would like to enjoy seeing the animals without them hiding from the sudden noise. Thank you for being courteous to the people around you.

We saw the Elk through the fog and the bears. The otters were not out and about, and the cougars may have been hiding. We did see very informative signs about all of the animals. The bears are special to the park, since they’ve had them since the park opened. The wildlife part is named after the first one, and you can see her name everywhere, “Mildred”. Please be sure to click on the pictures individually so you can read the signs and see everything informative and the animals closer.

Next to the animal habitat is a museum and snack shop. There are a lot of displays about local area birds and crystals that are mined. The timeline on the tree truck was quite interesting. Don’t forget to click on the pictures to see them better so you can experience them with us.