Macworld Review: Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station

This article popped up on my news feed and I thought I would share it with fellow campers.

Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station review: Reliable power for your RV or campsite

When your home office is in a motor home, keeping your Mac, iPad, and iPhone charged can be a hassle—until you try Goal Zero’s batteries.

Source: www.macworld.com/article/3192170/home-tech/goal-zero-yeti-400-portable-power-station-review-reliable-power-for-your-rv-or-campsite.html

Cross Country Here We Come!

We made a reservation at Trailer Village RV Park at the Grand Canyon in August and it’s almost time to leave for our cross country trip we start on May 11th. Since we made that reservation we have been planning our route and making reservations at various campgrounds. We had planned to come right home after staying at the Grand Canyon, but we will be continuing on to California so I can attend the Apple World Wide Developer Conference in June.

It is our first cross country trip, so we a combination of excited and nervous, but one things is certain. We dreamed of buying an RV and seeing the country and that dream is coming true. This is the beginning of our long journey of seeing as many places as we can with our amazing motorhome.

I will be posting each day of our journey with pictures and mini reviews of where we are staying each night, so stay tuned!

Towing A 2016 Honda HR-V Manual Transmission Four-Down

When Amber suggested a Honda HR-V as a tow vehicle, I started searching the web for information on whether it was possible to tow four-down behind a motorhome. I couldn’t find any definitive information on whether an automatic or manual transmission could be towed this way, but, from other make and model owners manuals I had read, towing a manual was pretty much a given.

We found a manual at a dealership in Tampa and made arrangements to test drive and talk numbers. I was a bit rusty, but I was able to do a test drive and it was just like riding a bike again, you never forget. Once we hashed out numbers, we asked them to provide us definitive documentation that the vehicle we were about to purchase could be towed four-down. After a bit of time, they provided us with a salesperson training brochure that mentioned being able to do it. They also said that in the HR-V owners CD, it has a section on what needs to be done to accomplish this.

Since I could not find any definitive documentation on the web, I figured I would provide the actual page from the owners CD that outlines how to tow a 2016 Honda HR-V with a manual transmission four-down.

Towing HR-V Manual Transmission Behind a Motorhome

Choosing A Toad

September of last year we spent 4 days in St. Augustine, FL. We used Uber and the Old Town Trolley to get from the campground to where we wanted to go. Uber was great since we could go directly from the campground to a destination. The Old Town Trolley was great because they had a shuttle to pick us up and bring us to the main trolley stop. However, even though we could get on the trolley nearly anywhere, there are times we had to ride the trolley for long periods of time to get back to the main trolley station. We began to see the value of towing a vehicle.

Like I mentioned in my last post, we were not able to tow our 2016 Honda CR-V unless we put it on a trailer, which would exceed the 5,000 lb. towing capacity our our gas coach. If we wanted to bring a vehicle with us, we’d have to buy a vehicle that could be towed. But where to start?

Do a search for ‘towable vehicle guide’ and you will find lots of articles that will mention some of the makes and models of cars that can be towed four down. This is where I started and after many hours looking, giving up, and looking some more, found some discrepancies in what these guides stated and the actual owner manuals of the vehicles. That’s why I strongly suggest you check the owner manual of any vehicle you are interested in towing. The great part is that I found them online at the manufacturer’s web sites in PDF format.

I continued to look at information and went to look at a few vehicles. Nothing was going to replace our 2016 Honda CR-V, it seemed. Then Amber found a manual transmission 2016 Honda HR-V that would be a great tow vehicle and we wouldn’t have to give up too much. We wanted documentation that the vehicle could be towed, to be certain we wouldn’t be buying something that we found out later could not be towed four down. After much looking, the salesperson dug up the owner CD and on that was the guide to towing the HR-V. Mission accomplished!

Our new 2016 Honda HR-V with a manual transmission

Now came the fun part. Amber had never driven a manual transmission before and I had 2 days to teach her before she needed to solo with our new vehicle. With much practice, she not only can drive a 36 1/2 ft. RV, but she can drive a manual transmission car also.

It’s never too late to improve yourself by learning new things. Fear holds us back. When we don’t let it, our lives are changed forever.

To Toad Or Not To Toad

When we first thought about buying a RV, our original thought was to buy a fifth wheel because we would always have a vehicle with us to drive to the places we needed and leave the RV behind. As I started thinking more about a fifth wheel, the less appealing it became. We didn’t have a truck for towing, so we’d have to buy one in addition to the RV itself. That would have put the cost in the class A price range, so I started comparing pros and cons. To cut a long stay short, the biggest con I saw was that we’d be in a confined space for long periods of time with no access to the refrigerator or bathrooms while moving down the road. Also, since I would be working at least part of the time while Amber drove, I would have to work in a truck, which was not even close to ideal. A booth dinette would be great for working in a class A. As you probably know, we went with a class A RV and believe it was the best decision for us.

2016 Honda CR-V Touring

Once made our choice of RV, we started thinking about how we’d get around once we got to our destination. Our vehicle at the time was a 2016 Honda CR-V Touring, which could not be towed flat or on a dolly because of its CVT transmission. So we decided that we could get around with ride sharing services, cabs, or renting a car while on the road.

Since then we have rethought our decision to not tow a vehicle. More on this later.

Fort DeSoto Park Campground

Address: 23500 Pinellas Bayway, South Tierra Verde, Fl, 33715
Telephone: 1-727-582-2267

Dates Stayed: 12/27/2016 – 12/29/2016

Rate: $41.81 per night (including taxes and fees)

Location

This campground sits within beautiful Ft. DeSoto Park, a Pinellas County park. We arrived on Tuesday afternoon and, as expected, there wasn’t much traffic, so we got to the campground pretty quickly, which is right off the main road running into the park.

Check-In

Since we do not currently tow our car, Amber and Christopher followed in our car while I drove Irving the 30 miles to the campground. Checking in was a pretty quick. I pulled Irving in front of the office while Amber and Christopher checked in. They were in and out in about 10 minutes. Amber drove the car to the campsite while I navigated to it, but finding my way to the campsite was a hair raising experience. The map was a little confusing and I ended up driving our 36.5 ft. motorhome to the south end of the campground, which is for vans, pop-ups, and tent camping only…no RVs permitted. I could not believe that I made it through that end of the park since the roads were extremely narrow, but I finally made it to the north end of the campground and our campsite.

Camp Site

Our Campsite

The site is back in and with the incredibly narrow roads, it was pretty difficult to get in the camp site. The camp site (223) is very level gravel and our automatic leveling jacks had no problem leveling quickly.

The services included at the site are 30/50amp electric and fresh water (1 spigot). For dumping, there is a dump station, but no sewer connections at the campsite. There is no cable TV, so you will have to rely on what you pick up from your over the air (OTA) antenna, if you have one. The county parks we have researched in Florida are pretty much no frills and this was no different. It is all about getting away here.

There is a picnic table and a grill at the campsite. We brought charcoal so we could cook hot dogs and s’mores and it was great to have the heat of the fire since the nights were cool while we were there. There was not a lot of light pollution and we could see the stars very well.

Our site backed up to the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico behind our campsite
Horseshoe crabs are abundant

WiFi & Cellular

I was on vacation during the Christmas holidays, so I didn’t need to work during this trip. There is no public WiFi in Ft. DeSoto, so your only option is cellular. We have AT&T cell service and we could get a signal, but it wasn’t very strong. This is definitely a good place to get away from technology and spend time with nature. If you absolutely need WiFi, there are plenty of businesses outside the park, close by to poach from.

Facilities

Ft. DeSoto has beaches, kayaking and canoeing, bike trails, a historic fort and much more. There is more to see in the Tampa Bay area, but this campground could be a destination in itself. We were told a few times that this park was amazing for camping and it was true. If you’ve never been to Ft. DeSoto, it is an absolutely must camping destination.

There are buildings that we assumed were shower and bathroom facilities, but we didn’t use them this trip. We can’t comment on their cleanliness.

Conclusion

We very much enjoyed our stay at Ft. DeSoto Campground. Our campsite was tucked among mangroves and palm trees and great views of the Gulf of Mexico. It is very close to home and we would definitely stay there again.

Irving Is Now Home!

We picked up Irving yesterday after over a mouth at the dealership. Our slides are working great, our 1/2 bath door is opening all the way, the wallpaper on the passenger side front is fixed and the windshield is brand new. He is now home and on his pad in our yard where he should be. Next, our trip to Ft. Desoto park on Tuesday! Look for the review shortly.

Irving Has Been At The Dealership For A Month

You can read about our issue with Lazydays and their service department here. I don’t need to rehash the details. We found another highly rated dealership to have Irving serviced and we dropped him off on November 8th.

Unfortunately, on the way up to the dealership, about 1.5 miles from reaching the destination, a rock hit the windshield and put a crack in it. So, in addition to the other issues we needed to have looked at, we had to submit a claim to our insurance company for a windshield repair. RV windshields are not something that dealers keep in stock, so one had to be ordered. That took two weeks. Some panels also had to be ordered for the inside driver side walls which took some more time. We are closely approaching a month at the dealership and we got a message from our service advisor saying that the windshield is in and they may have it installed by the end of the week.

Fortunately, we didn’t have any trips planned during the holidays, so a month wasn’t such a big deal. However, we had the coach plugged in at home and kept it climate controlled so that we could keep the moisture at a minimum. We are definitely going to go over the coach to make sure we don’t have any issues before we take it home.

If you haven’t had your coach in for service yet or you are thinking of getting a coach, we have learned that getting service is a VERY long process, so be prepared to be without it for a while.

CRC Power Lube Industrial High Performance Lubricant with PTFE

If your RV has slides, they require periodic maintenance. As I mentioned in this post (with video), I used this product to lubricate the gibs on all three of our slides and it made a huge difference. Check your slide manual to see if this product is good for your slides, ours is a Schwintek system, as featured in the video.

Dumping Gray and Black Tanks The Right Way

Before we started using our coach, I did tons of research on various topics. One theme was evident on the forums I read and videos I watched. Dump your tanks right so they don’t smell up your coach when you open the gate valve on your toilet.

I found this EXCELLENT video on dumping your tanks the right way and we have done this every time with great results. Doing this from the start can keep your coach from having that…smell.

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