It was the anniversary of our first overnight trip and the weather forecast was good. Coincidentally, it was National Park Week, so we decided it was the perfect weekend for our first trip of the season. We actually left ahead of schedule Friday night–last year our plans were delayed due to the Webasto hot water heater auto-draining in our driveway when we filled up the fresh water tank–and we arrived at our usual Walmart in Camp Hill, PA before 9:30 p.m.
Originally we had planned to go to Gettysburg, however, when we learned from a recent Roadtreking podcast that it was National Park Week, we knew it would be even more crowded than usual at such an always popular destination. This was confirmed when we saw there were several Class A’s in the Walmart parking lot. (On prior trips we had seen maybe one towable in the parking lot.) We decided to park behind one of the Class A’s, next to the grassy area where we could walk the dogs.
We decided to go to Antietam instead, which is about an hour from Gettsyburg in Sharpsburg, MD. We had recently been there for our final trip of 2015 during Halloween weekend. On Saturday morning, after making coffee with our MyJo Presto Coffeemaker, we dropped off the dogs at the Cozy Canine near Gettysburg and were on our way to Antietam by 8:45 a.m. It had been raining Friday night into Saturday morning, so we stopped at the Battlefield Market for a second cup of coffee in the hopes that the pavement would start to dry out so we could go on our bicycle ride before lunch.
When we arrived at the Antietam Visitor Center, the parking lot was full; however the three RV/bus parking spots were open, so we were happy to settle in. We have been to Antietam maybe a dozen times over the past 25 years, however, I realized that we had never been to Antietam in the springtime while the trees are in full bloom–we have always come in the fall, since the anniversary of the Battles of both Antietam and nearby South Mountain were fought in mid-September.
It was not particularly warm, but we were still able to start our bicycle ride by 11:00 a.m. I had remembered to charge the action camera so we could actually film our ride (video coming soon). One disappointment, however: the tower we usually climb to take pictures of the surrounding landscape was closed for repairs. Maybe it is being “loved to death,” like Yellowstone! (This is a reference to RV News from the April 18th Roadtreking podcast) Nonetheless, we enjoyed a slightly chilly 8-mile ride and then enjoyed lunch in the E-trek–we were fully stocked with salad, cheese & crackers, and apples. About an hour later, Karl left for part 2 of his ride (8 miles is not enough for him–he prefers a 20-mile ride, so he can tour the battlefield by bike). I enjoyed a relaxing couple of hours watching some shows I had downloaded onto my MacBook.
Even though it wasn’t hot outside, the inside of the E-trek was getting warm, so I closed the windows and turned on the AC. I checked the inverter display, which indicated the battery was 85/86% charged. Even after running the AC for an hour, the battery strength was still 84/85%, and I could hear the battery balancer come on from time to time, so it is definitely improving the batteries’ performance. Last year, running the AC for an hour would diminish the battery by at least 10% per hour (see my battery log from last May). What a difference from last year, when our inverter started alarming and the Webasto hot water heater launched into automatic drain mode (both events triggered by the battery not being charged by the secondary alternator/underhood generator while driving).
When Karl returned from his ride, we drove around the battlefield and took some more videos. As I mentioned, it was particularly beautiful this time of year, and by the afternoon, it was warm and sunny. We stopped again, and had a snack in the E-trek, before heading to the Bavarian Inn, just across the Potomac River, where we had a dinner reservation.
The next morning, we wanted to squeeze in another bicycle ride before picking up the dogs at 10:30 a.m. Even at 8:00 a.m., two of the three RV/bus spots were occupied! My goal is to ride 6 miles/day, so since I had ridden 8 miles on Saturday, I only needed 4 miles on Sunday–a good thing, since it was cold again. (In fact, I almost used the cold morning weather as an excuse to bail, but Karl talked me out of it.) Karl, of course, kept going and when he got back, there was another bus waiting for our spot, so we can’t imagine what Gettysburg was like during National Park Week!
On the way home, we reminisced about some of the sites of our misadventures last year, for example, the gas station where we noticed the Webasto draining again, as well as a bees’ nest on the diesel fuel pump, which we disturbed while filling up the fuel tank! About halfway home from Gettysburg, we stopped at Cabela’s to empty the grey and black water tanks, and we were back home before 2:30 p.m. An hour later, both dogs were bathed and the E-trek had been unloaded. What a difference from our first trip last year!