Campground Report: Cajun Haven RV Park

Cajun Haven: One Ray of Sunshine
I didn’t look closely at this campsite, but it was colorful and seemed the owner of the RV was exercising some inventiveness in decorating. To me this site was something of a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary environment.

We stayed at Cajun Haven RV Park as a one night stopover between New Orleans and our next one night stopover in Texas on our way toward Potters Creek Campground in Canyon Lake, TX. Reviews I found of Cajun Haven prior to camping there were a little bit mixed as they often are. In my own experience, management was very friendly, access to I-10 very convenient, and our campsite was pretty level as were the others because the campground is on a flat open field. There is a small lake or large pond at the campground. Apart from that written above and the rate of $20 for full hookups with 50 amp service, oh, and the free entertainment provided by ducks waddling around the campground there is little I can find to say about Cajun Haven on the positive side. [READ MORE…]

Campground Report: Claystone Park, Lake Tobesofkee, Macon, GA

View of Lake Tobesofkee from the campground at Claystone Park.
View of Lake Tobesofkee from the campground at Claystone Park.

CAMPGROUND NAME: Claystone Park, Lake Tobesofkee Recreation Area
LOCATION: 6600 Mosley Dixon Rd., Macon, GA 31220
KIND: County
SEASONAL: No
RATES: We paid $25 for full hookups with 50 amps in November; rates may vary
STAY LIMIT: 7 days
CLUBS: None
RESERVATIONS ACCEPTED: Yes
FIRST-COME-FIRST-SERVED: Check with office
CAMPGROUND WEB SITE
CAMPGROUND MAP: see below
HOSTED: I don’t think so.
PHONE: 478-474-8770, 478-474-8771
EMAIL: None of which I am aware.
GPS: 32.83132, -83.77728
GOOGLE MAPS

Campsite map of Claystone Park Campground at Lake Tobesofkee, Macon GA
Campsite map of Claystone Park Campground at Lake Tobesofkee, Macon GA. We stayed in #42. Campsites in the 40s have concrete slabs covering part of the sites (see map). Our site was easily long enough for our truck and fifth wheel. There would have been room for another vehicle as well.

ACCESS: Via paved surface streets
SITES: 43 or so
SURFACING: Asphalt for some, concrete and gravel combination for others
PULL THRU: Yes
BACK-IN: Yes
MAXIMUM RIG SIZE: Some sites such as the one we were in (42) could accommodate the largest of rigs. Many others were of good size.
TENTS: Yes
LEVELNESS: The sites in the 40s seemed more level to me. These are the pull-thru sites with concrete pads and full hookups.
SHADE: Not in the sites in the 40s, but elsewhere yes, quite a bit
SPACING: There is a grass median of maybe 20′ – 25′ between sites in the 40’s. In general, sites here are not stacked one on top of the other… there is some breathing room.
TENT PADS: While there are tent sites–with electrical hookups at that–I did not see tent pads.
FIRE GRILLS: Yes, for campfires and separate waist high BBQ grills, at least at some sites.
PICNIC TABLES: Yes
PETS: On leash

Click HERE for the full campground report.

Too Much of a Good Thing – Electricity

EMS Remote IMG_5169_1200
This remote display panel supplied with the Progressive Industries EMS-HW50C alerts you to any errors, voltage for each leg as well as current draw for each leg. A bypass switch on the left allows you to easily use generators that don’t work with the EMS or to bypass the EMS for other reasons.

When we bought our new RV it was for us a sizable expenditure. Such being the case we considered things we could do in order to protect it. A good polymer treatment for the paint was one thing. Another was a Progressive Industries 50 amp hard-wired electrical management system (EMS) in order to protect the electronics from, among other things, power surges, high and low voltages sometimes encountered at campgrounds. Progressive makes a number of EMS systems, some intended to hang on the power pedestal and some to be hard-wired into the RV.

Another measure of protection we purchased was a 50 amp voltage regulator, a Hughes Autoformer. This device can boost campground voltage when it falls dangerously low allowing you to safely use equipment that might otherwise be damaged by the low voltage. They also make a 30 amp model. [READ MORE…]

Campground Report: Hat Creek Hereford Ranch RV Park & Campground, Hat Creek CA near Lassen Volcanic National Park

Camped in the field at Hat Creek Hereford RV Park & Campground
Because there were no camp sites available for the time slot we wished to stay we camped in “The Field” at Hat Creek Hereford RV Park & Campground which serves as overflow camping for a rig or two. We were told the field would flood when the neighboring farmer flooded his field. Oh, great… Nevertheless we took our chances based on reassurances from the campground host that wasn’t likely to happen during our stay.

Hat Creek Hereford Ranch RV Park & Campground is what I would call a rural, family oriented park. This park is situated north of Lassen Volcanic National Park which is why we came to the area. Although there are other camping options nearby including another independent park and some Forest Service campgrounds, this is the only place we could find a spot in which we could fit, and as you will see it wasn’t really a spot.

Often, it seems to me rural parks are a little less formally run, and a little less spic and span. They seem to lag a little bit in terms of maintenance and upkeep, the showers may need refurbishing, the trash need may lag in being emptied… As a child of the 60’s/70’s the word “funky” comes to mind, although that could also describe a genre of rock music. READ MORE...

Photo Post: McArthur-Burney Falls, Burney, CA

McArthur-Burney Falls
Situated just outside Burney CA is the lovely McArthur-Burney Falls. It is a worthwhile but often over-busy sight to see if you’re in the area. We visited when camped at Hat Creek Hereford Ranch & RV Park north of Lassen Volcanic National Park which is about 20 miles from the falls.

Diane & I set out on a cross-country RV trip on June 29, 2018. The first destination of note was Lassen Volcanic Park in CA. We camped to the north of the park at Hat Creek Hereford Ranch & RV Park which is situated about midway between the park and the waterfall. The latter is lovely to see, of course, but it also offers a cooling respite on hot summer days as the canyon below the falls remains naturally chilled. Despite some trail closures in McArthur-Burney State Park we were able to enjoy a short hike that encircled the falls. Note that parking at the falls is limited and it can be difficult or impossible to get in to see them. Choosing your arrival time can make all the difference. Admission was $10 per car when we were there, $9 for seniors. See their web page formore information.

DIY 1000 Watt Inverter Installation

110 volt outlet and remote on/off switch installed.
The red 110 volt outlet dedicated to the inverter and inverter remote on/off switch installed.

In my previous RV I only had 110 volt household current when I was plugged into shore power at a campground, when I ran my disturbingly noisy generator, or when I turned on my inverter to power the single, dedicated outlet I had installed along with it. This last method involved running extension cords from that outlet to other points inside (or outside) the RV where I wanted or needed household current–inconvenient and a tripping hazard.

Upon getting a new RV my plan had always been to have an inverter installed that would supply power to all of the RV’s existing 110 volt outlets so that power would be available throughout it without needing to run extension cords–a more convenient and aesthetically pleasing arrangement that would also eliminate the hazard of tripping over extension cords.

When I started looking at all that was involved in wiring an inverter into the RV’s electrical system it soon became apparent to me that it was outside my wheelhouse of skills. So, I decided to have that done professionally later on, but until I could hire it done I was comfortable doing a more simple trip-over-the-extension-cord style hookup that would at least provide us with some AC until the professional installation could be performed. [READ MORE…]

Toast on a Cloudy Day

Sunset: Imperial Dam LTVA, Feb. 2018
Another gorgeous sunset at the BLM’s Imperial Dam Long Term Visitor Area. I grabbed this shot with my iPhone.

In my most recent post I promised an upcoming article about a DIY inverter installation. I haven’t gotten around to that yet and I apologize to everyone who has been breathlessly waiting for it… both of you!

As for an explanation as to why that post has been delayed, well, I have been working on something of a larger project that has demanded my attention and kept me away from my writing desk: a DIY solar install on the RV. That job, now largely complete, shall be the subject of this post, or series of posts.

My interest in solar power for RVing has its wellspring in my love of nature which by extension means camping more closely to it in more natural and off-the-grid locations where it becomes necessary to be self-reliant for services such as electricity. Back in the old days when I had my first RV (named Charlene, a 30′ Coachmen Class C) I traveled the country with a 120 watt GoPower portable solar panel I would set up then pack up as I moved from location to location. Although “Sunny” (as my panel became known to me) could not supply all the power to meet my electrical demand, he served me well once I replaced the cheap controller with which he was equipped from the mfr., and he is still part of my solar arsenal today. (Previously I wrote a User Report about the GoPower 120 watt portable kit.)

Over the past weeks and months I have been working on designing and installing a more complete and robust solar installation on my current RV. This system, now fully operational, includes four, rooftop mounted and tilt-able 190 watt solar panels, a 60 amp TriStar MPPT solar charge controller, 4 LifeLine 6 volt AGM batteries (wired in series/parallel to make 12 volts), and a Bogart Engineering TM-2030 battery monitor along with a remote control for the TriStar controller. Of course, there are a number of minor components such as circuit breakers, busbars, terminal blocks, etc., but the components I listed above are the major players of the system.

As a first step in planning an RV solar installation many people write about figuring out what your electrical demands will be and then planning the system size and components accordingly. Personally, I think, that while this may sometimes be valuable it isn’t always practicable. It involves cataloging all the devices and appliances you will be using, how much current they draw and how long you will use these devices every day. In other words, this means figuring out how much electricity you will need. It seemed to me that, for me, calculating this might be something marginally more possible than guessing the next winning lottery numbers. If you have an established RVing routine and the ability to measure all these things then this sort of assessment may be more useful, but even then electrical demands and the ability to generate power will change from season to season with the varying number of daylight hours as well as one’s current latitude to say nothing of the weather.

In my case I didn’t see how I could undertake a truly valuable assessment. I had no history in this RV. I should say “we” instead of “I” because I now have Diane as my partner in crime. Nor do we have too much of an idea of what our camping style will be. So, I took another tack which was to put as much solar on the roof of my RV as I could because, as they say, you can never have too much. However, I’m not so sure about that either.

I used the Draw modue of Open Office to construct this diagram of the rooftop of my RV. Then I tried placing different solar panels I drew to scale in various places. This is the final layout I made.

My first step in doing all this was to get up on the rooftop, measure and diagram where everything was in order to know how much space I had into which I could place solar panels while (and this was a critical component of my planning) still being able to move safely from front to back of the roof in order to carry out routine maintenance as well as get to all the corners of each panel so as to be able to operate the planned tilting hardware. Another important aspect of planning the solar panel positioning was avoiding, as much as possible, any shadowing that might occur from objects on the roof such as the air conditioner and TV antenna and even one panel casting shadows on another. I am including one version of the roof diagrams I made. It shows the panels and placement that were ultimately chosen

Once I figured out which panels I thought would work best—part of this was the operating voltage which I will discuss below—I made a cardboard cutout the size of one of them, took it up to the roof to check the fit in the planned mounting positions. It would have been better to make four cutouts, but who has that much cardboard? I used some painter’s tape to mark the corners of the planned panel mounting positions. Then I walked from the back of the RV to the front, to see if I would be able to comfortably and safely step over and around everything as well as being able to access the corners of each panel in order to tilt them. It was a rehearsal, a pantomime.

In picking out which panels to get one consideration of course was their physical size. Another was their voltage. My lay understanding is that RVs have 12 volt systems and solar panels that can operate with RV systems can be 12 volt panels, 24 volt panels, 36 volts or perhaps even 48 volt panels but that 24 volt panels and above must be used with a solar controller that can reduce the voltage to the 12 volts used by RV systems. The advantages of using solar panels that produce higher voltages include they are both more efficient and that smaller wires (less expensive and easier to work with) can be used to carry the electricity from the rooftop to the solar controller wherever it is located (usually somewhere inside the RV). My choice of the Solarland 190 watt, 24 volt panels was made because they offered the advantages of a higher voltage (above 12) while fitting the spaces I had on the RV roof.

BigAss & Blossom: our truck and RV respectivley, with Blossom sporting her new do of four rooftop solar panels. Sunny, our little 120 watt portable on the ground is facing east and the first to ctch the morning rays.

I chose a Tristar 60 amp MPPT solar controller from Morningstar. They have an excellent reputation and the MPPT style controller can transform excess voltage into usable amperage. This is where toast comes in… Our panels are rated at about 41 amps combined output for the four of them. When using our toaster the other day which puts a high demand on the system the TriStar remote panel we installed indicated 54 amps being sent to the batteries, 13 amps more than our panels can produce—it converted excess voltage to amperage thereby sending to the batteries more amps than the panels actually produce. Again, that’s my lay understanding of things, anyway. With all the wattage we have on the roof and the storage capacity of our battery bank we can make toast on a cloudy day. That may not seem like much when you live in a stIcks and bricks home, are plugged into shore power at a campground or running a generator, but when you are living off-the-grid on solar power alone it’s a pretty big deal.


This blog takes an enormous amount of time and energy to build and maintain . If you have found something useful or entertaining please use this Amazon.com link when you shop at Amazon. Doing so will cost you no more and in some cases I may receive a small commission. Your support in the form of using my Amazon.com link or making a PayPal Donation will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

If you would like to be notified by email when I make new posts to the blog look for the email text entry field and the FOLLOW RUSS button on the left, or with some mobile devices at the page bottom.

RVing America

HandyBob's Blog

Making off grid RV electrical systems work

Wheeling It

On the Road Since 2010, Traveling Across USA & Europe With 12 Paws

Live Laugh RV

Our Next Chapter - RV Travel, Photography, and More

%d bloggers like this: