Thursday, April 16, 2009

Another reason I'm glad to be an RVer

We had a windstorm in northern California on Tuesday that affected several counties. Outside the state park where I camp host, a tree fell and blocked one lane of the access road. The Marin County Fire Department removed the tree and the two state park rangers directed traffic around it, finishing in 30 minutes. However, there was other damage: the power lines into the park were down as were several others in the neighboring counties. The electricity in the majority of the campground was out. My rig sits just outside the grid and I had power.

I was feeling pretty good about being able to work on the computer and sip a cup from my freshly perked pot of coffee. Then the heater shut off and the screen dimmed. Uh oh. I still had some electricity but it was around half power, 15-20 amps perhaps.

Out came the 400-watt inverter and I plugged in the laptop to finish what I was working on. The batteries were fully charged and I wouldn't need the generator for hours. The electric heater drew too much power so I turned on the electric blanket and it warmed the bed. The refrigerator beeped to let me know there was low AC and since it was set to Auto, it transferred to running on propane. I finished my work and went to bed.

At 7, I turned on the water heater, took a shower, dressed and went to the office to check the reservations. With the computer down, I could only go by the previous day's printout. I had to post signs with the incoming reserved sites listed so drop-in campers would know what sites were available. This was the last spring break week and many decided to visit the park. The sign was set up in Excel, I took it home, looked it over, created a similar sheet and entered the names. I plugged in the 800-watt inverter with its two connections, added the printer to the laptop and printed the copies. I used the copier to dupe the reservation list and went back to the office to post the signs. I left the list on the counter and noticed PG&E was there to work on the power.

Returning home, I heated water on the stove and poured it through the one-cup Melitta drip. I could have made an entire pot but this would do. I watched the campers go in and out of the dark restrooms and take showers. I worked on the computer and at 12:30, the refrigerator beeped. The power had returned--for me. I warmed a sandwich in the microwave and reset the clock. I checked the reefer. It had returned to the AC setting. I unplugged the computer from the inverter and plugged it into the power strip. All was well.

Thursday morning at 7, I was at the office squinting at the Post-It notes on the monitor. I found the campground reservation website and access codes, and brought them home. Success: I printed the new 7-day reservation list and that day's incoming reservation list for the buildings. Now I could post the reserved signs on the sites and address the drop-ins with confidence about which sites were available.

The campground power was restored on Thursday at 2 with the exception of the restroom building next to me. I watched the campers emerge from the cold showers and they didn't look happy at all. The electricity in the building should be restored on Friday morning.

The RV back-up systems worked perfectly. Power outage? Reefer, hot water and stove on propane; computer and printer on inverter; and all else on batteries. Food stayed chilled, coffee was hot and work was completed. With an RV, a power outage is an inconvenience easily handled.


  1. Hi,
    you are a VERY smart cookie!! :-)
    THAT, is exactly what we all need, as the Basis for survival. Thank for making it mainstream.
    OK, so what do I connect to the Figit Valve? ;-)
    Oh, and I have a NOS Muffler Bearing for sale!
    Boots Langley

  2. Hi, since you are on the road a lot and now volunteering, do you have ideas for a cycle rack that will work for a small woman (myself) 53. I want something like the MX Hauler for my street bike. I was told the MX (which has a lift assist) won't work for street bike, even tho my Yamaha 250 is only 350 lbs. I need something SOON so I can get on the road. Taking the cycle is my solution for mobility while camped. IDEAS? Resources? thanks!!!

  3. You are sooo in an RV means you are independent in more ways than one. When fires raged through our neighborhood in 2007 we lost power for 8 days. No worries, our batteries were fully charged, the propane tanks were full. I stuffed the frig with food from the quickly warming frig/freezer in the house and we could keep abreast of news about the fire on our little 12 volt TV. We also could hitch up at a moment's notice and get outta Dodge.

  4. I'm sorry, Jami, but I don't know of any kind of cycle rack that would work for you. Maybe someone else will have a suggestion.

  5. Thanks for posting and I'll keep an eye here in case anyone else has tried a cycle rack or has ideas! Women RVers - WooT!

  6. ZenWoman try "trailer in a bag". This could be a solution to hauling your street bike.

  7. Thanks but I don't want a trailer. I don't want anything destabilizing my van in winds, etc. A carrier rack with hydraulic jack function is what I'm after, but one that will work with street bike, rather than dirt bike. I'm just clarifying in case others see the post. thx again!

  8. You're just now discovering the fact that an RV is capabile of keeping one mostly comfortable when the power goes out? hame, I've been doing that for over 10 years. Seems like every year we have one or two bad storms that shut down the power anywhere from 3 days to over a week. I use the RV to live in while the electrical crews work to get power restored. I am in the process of getting a 30 amp plug to the outside of the house and a mod kit for the house furnace so that when I lose power I can still keep the house warm by running the blower fan with the generator and the natural gas will create the necessary heat. If all else fails, just live in the RV for as long as possible until power is resorted. No problem for the RVers.

  9. No, I've known about how an RV can help you weather a storm (pun intended). I was just using a more recent example because we acquire new RVers every week who may not be familiar with what an RV can do for them.

  10. I'm thinking about doing a trial run of rv living soon! I look forward to reading more of your blog. ~Amanda