Sunday, January 1, 2012

Two days into the drive south!

We left our home at 7:45 am for the Aldergrove border entry into the US of A.  We waited a few minutes for the border to open and, when it did, we were the first in line at the commercial truck entry.  You guessed it, we were sent to a parking area for an inspection.  That was our first time with the RV. The US border agent in charge of agricultural products was a really nice fella and he made quick work of checking out our rig.  We were held up for about 30 minutes.
Saying good bye to our son Deni (right of frame) before driving him to the Abbotsford Airport for his Friday evening flight back to Edmonton, Alberta.  Son in law Trevor (left) and our daughter Ginette (middle)
Having driven away from US customs we made our way through Bellingham, WA. then south on I-5.  We left on Saturday, Dec. 31 - New Years Eve.

The afternoon before departure I had moved the 5th wheel on the street to load and secure our motorcycle.  I disconnected from house power and set the fridge to run on 12 Volt.  A few hours later while  inside the 5th wheel, I checked out our power systems and was alarmed that the 12 Volt power was dead.  Hmmm!  Bad battery?  Failed converter?  A fuse?  It was getting late so I ran an extension cord to an external battery charger to charge the batteries.  That kept the fridge working. I really thought the converter had failed.
Early Saturday morning.
Before leaving home, I rolled up the extension cord, disconnected the battery charger, stepped back into the fiver....and our management system barely registered 1/3rd energy reserve in the batteries.  What's with that!  Something more serious is at play.  I started our truck in the belief that it would keep the 12 Volt system up and running.  I walked back to the fiver and low and behold, the battery management system indicated the batteries  were dead.  Sheesh!!
I connected the camera at the back of the 5th wheel to the TV truck monitor.  All worked fine! I cleaned up the wiring after the check.

You can see the motorcycle on the swivel wheel on the inboard TV.  It gives me great comfort to see what is happening back there while on the road.  It also helps to see who or what is behind the rig when I back up.
Walking back from the service counter.
We had no choice but to solve the 12 Volt problem so while en route, I mentioned to Jeanette that we had an electrical problem and that we would likely have to alter our schedule to get the needed repairs done.  One hour from the US/Canada border,  on the I-5, is a small city by the name of Burlington.  We had been to a Camping World there in the past and I was hoping it would be open for business and that they could fit us in. We caught a break!  Yeah!
Jeanette is doing some shopping @ Camping World.
We were really fortunate to show up at a great time.  A really nice service manager got us in within minutes, a really experience electrical wizard was summoned to the service counter to hear my story, and he quickly mentioned three likely scenarios.  Our truck, 5th and attached swivel wheel with motorcycle were quickly driven into the shop and the detective work began.  When talking with the electrical wizard, I mentioned that once he found the problem, I would appreciate if I could see the problem and understand the fix.  The mechanic was fantastic.  He did just that once the problems were diagnosed. What a great guy!
Nice facility.
All electrical systems are being checked.
Within 30 minutes the electrical wizard appeared in the customer service area and summoned me to the shop.  Wow!  What a great shop!  He explained the two problems.  Problem #1.  He guessed that while at home, I had plugged the fiver into a GFI receptacle.  That was true but how did he know that, I wondered.  He also asked if I had tripped the GFI breaker.  I pleaded guilty to that too!  Holly smokes!  Was this electrical wizard a mind reader too?  He then explained that RV's that regularly operate on 50 Volts do not like GFI breakers.  When plugged into a 15 volt receptacle it was fine till the breaker tripped. When the breaker was reset, it created a problem for the converter.  He suggested that when plugged in at home, I use a standard non GFI power receptacle. When he tested the converter and batteries, the converter was charging the batteries well. 

Problem #2 was due to the fact that a 20 amp fuse in our truck had popped.  Once replaced, power from the truck was directed to the 12 Volt system in the 5th wheel.  OK!  He showed me everything they did and then, in his own words, stated he would make quick work to' button up the truck and fiver' and we would be good to go within 10 minutes.  They also topped up the propane in both tanks.
So, after 90 minutes of diagnosis and repair and then depositing a few $$$ with the service manager, we were handed back the keys and off we went. 
On I-5 south.
With the US border inspection and the electrical repairs, we fell two hours behind our intended schedule.  So what!  It is what it is.  Heading south through I-5 proved seamless.  There was negligible traffic when we passed through Seattle, WA. That is the exception rather than the norm for that city.  It's usually chaotic!
Cloudy day in Seattle, WA.

A brief stop in a south Washington State rest area.
Driving through Vancouver, WA. and Portland, Oregon.
A late afternoon shot of Portland on the other side of the Columbia River.
We arrived at the RV park in Salem, Oregon, after 5:00 pm.  Once unhooked and set up, we headed off to do some grocery shopping and to acquire a new US TracFone. Once back from shopping we chose to celebrate the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 by going out for dinner in downtown Salem, the Oregon State Capital.  A nice Italian restaurant was found.  With a little Chianti, and awesome food, we toasted an end and a beginning.  Once back at the 5th wheel, we settled in for the evening but it proved impossible to stay awake till the midnight fireworks.  I was quickly lulled to sleep and remained undisturbed by the loud bangs and whistle sounds that fireworks provide.  Unusual but true. I was bagged! Jeanette gave me the play by play of the fireworks during our morning breakfast.

We had a great drive in the sun again today. We're  now at the 7 Feathers RV Resort and Casino - a 5 star resort (rated in the top 10 best RV resorts in Continental USA) - in Canyonville, Oregon.  We'll be here for two nights before driving the three high mountain passes into northern California.

Oh, by the way, our 12 Volt system is working well...and the truck maintains the voltage well while  under tow.  Yeah!

Our sincere best wishes for a healthy, successful and most fulfilling 2012 to our family, friends, fellow RV'ers, golfers, motorcyclists, and other readers in blog land.

Thanks for dropping by.


  1. safe travels as you continue southward!!..glad to hear that the problem was quickly solved at Camping World..we have been there and spent a few dollars in that lovely store..a RV'er's Disneyland!!!

  2. Happy New Year!
    The twelve volt lesson was actually pretty good value if you ask me. (and of course you didn't) Sometimes it's the simplest thing, but unless you've already had the (bad) experience of figuring it out, a lot of precious time gets wasted. Way more than a couple hours at Camping World I'd guess.
    Happy Trails!

  3. GFIs and fuses! Ain't it's almost always something simple. Safe travels and Happy New Year.

  4. I always have a digital voltmeter with me in the trailer, those gfi's are like gremlins always getting you in trouble. Glad to here all is well and the fix wasn't a $400 converter, ask how I know. Have a great time while your in the States we will be folowing you. Sam & Donna...

  5. Glad to hear you are on your way and the problems were resolved so quickly. Travel safe!

  6. Happy New Year and safe travels Rene' and Jeanette.

    I a happy to hear your troubles are all resolved and you are on your way to the warm weather.

  7. Glad it was an easy fix to find for the electrical wizard. It's funny because just hours before our departure we also had a GFI outlet problem that confused me but a simple visit to our local RV tech solved it in seconds.

    Great getting through Seattle with no problems - that's my worst nightmare usually!

    Happy New Year to you and Jeanette!

  8. Happy New Year! We did get our cold Kokanee. Looks like we both are at 7 Feathers tonight.

  9. There always has to be something, doesn't there! It is good you got the problem resolved quickly. GFI! Who would have known? Thank you for paying for the lesson that will likely benefit a few of your readers! ;)

  10. wow glad to see it was an easy travels you two..and all the best in 2012 !!!!