Trouble in Paradise

It was Sunday afternoon in Mobile, Alabama, and we’d just walked “home” after a wonderful brunch at Wintzell’s Oyster House when Georges noticed the red warning light was on indicating our Casita battery was low.

At first, we weren’t too alarmed. We’d been boondocking (parked without any hookups) on a quiet neighborhood street just north of downtown since Friday evening. We usually have enough solar-charged battery power to last for days, if not weeks, and we still had a good half-tank of water left for showers and cooking. What’s to worry about?

Then we thought about it. It had been overcast all day Saturday and Sunday, depriving our rooftop solar panels the sunlight needed to recharge the 27C battery that keeps our Casita lights, water pump and “Fantastic” fan running. On Friday, we thought we’d found the perfect spot, shaded by a lovely oak tree. In Texas, camping spots with shade are a premium. But maybe parking in the shade here wasn’t such a good idea.

Georges started the car, which we’d left attached to the Casita all weekend as we walked and biked around Mobile. He let it run. Theoretically, the car battery should recharge the Casita battery. But after an hour, the reading on the Casita battery creeped barely from 10 volts to 11.4 volts. We need a reading at least 12 on our 12V battery for things to work as they should, and we’re more accustomed with Texas sunshine to see readings in the 13V and 14V range.

Maybe our running of the fan and all that recharging of our iPhones and iPads amid those cloudy weekend days took a toll? Oh well, the toilet still flushed. We went to sleep.

But when I woke just before 6 – G was already wide-eyed – the battery charge had plummeted back into the red. The water pump groaned; we didn’t dare turn on any lights. Instead, we got up, threw on our clothes, pulled out of our lovely “home away from home in Mobile” boondock site and headed to the nearest Walmart Supercenter to get our battery tested.

Georges went to the auto department. Somebody was ahead of him so it would be an hour before we could have the battery tested to determine if it was just low or if it was dead and wouldn’t hold a charge. I went grocery shopping.

I never realized what a joy it is to shop in a nearly empty Walmart at this hour on a Monday. The only other people in the food aisles were Walmart workers stocking the shelves and a few men and women in hospital togs, probably stopping for staples as they headed home from the graveyard shift.

An hour later we learned the battery was indeed dead, defunct, defeated. It was past its two-year warranty (of course). We decided it probably would have faltered whether we’d parked in the shade on an overcast weekend and charged all our Apple toys or not.

We spent $99 for a new battery. But we had a hard time fitting it into the battery space; it seemed bigger than the other battery. But with a little elbow grease – and brute force to bend a few metal edges – we got the battery and its requisite hookups into its compartment on the side of the Casita.

But then came the retainer. There was no way to screw the retainer in to hold the battery in place. This piece is important. It’s what keeps the battery from jiggling out of its compartment and onto the roadway. The new battery was just too big for the retainer to fit.

Darn.

So now we had to pull the overlarge battery out of the compartment we had forced it into. Easier said than done. We had to physically pry the damn thing out. Thank goodness for elbow grease and G’s ingenuity. It took some time, a few swear words and a bit of brute force, but finally we got out what we had shoved in.

G took it back to Walmart – we were still in the parking lot after all – and tried to exchange it for the smaller battery. But this particular Walmart had none of the smaller batteries in stock.

Double darn.

But wait, there’s one in the display. Let’s use that one. And so we did. Twenty dollars cheaper and it installed easily. G fastened the connectors to the battery, pushed it into its tight little battery space, screwed in the retainer and locked the compartment. Voila.

MacGyver in action!

We’re off to Dauphin Island to take the ferry to Fort Morgan and then continue our perimeter drive across Alabama into Florida and we’re just a couple of hours behind schedule. But who has a schedule? We’re just puttering our way around the perimeter of the United States.

Here’s hoping we have battery power tomorrow when we boondock at a Walmart in Pensacola.

(We did; all good!)

.

15 thoughts on “Trouble in Paradise

  1. Sheryl Cox Weber March 29, 2018 — 6:18 pm

    I was very interested in your last two posts and seeing that you were able to ferry across to an island and stay. So glad that you are leading the way and giving us ideas! Kurt and I bought our Casita today–we will pick it up July 25th. Plan to do a short trip to Colorado in August. Keep those ideas coming!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally cool! Welcome to the Casita family. By any chance was Herold the guy you bought it from? He was great with us years ago. In August we should be on the Montana-Alberta border or thereabouts. Would be great to hook up with you guys on the road sometime. So happy for you. We couldn’t love our Casita any more than we do; may your experience be the same!

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      1. Carla was our sales”man”. We just got word the Casita is entering into production next week.!
        -Kurt & Sheryl

        Liked by 1 person

      2. How very exciting! Congrats. We have been saving a bottle of champagne; we may just crack it open tonight in your honor!

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  2. Some would say it’s our chinese solar controller. It charges based on the temperature where the controller is, not where the battery is. (Like the Renology Adventurer, with a wire running to the battery for temperature) SO let’s see if you have the problem after a few months with the new battery. But since you’re not likely to be too far from a Walmart, you can always get it replaced!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ken, great to hear from you! Pretty sure it’s not a temp issue; all is good now w/new battery. We’re loving St. Joseph Peninsula State Park in Florida in the Gulf!!! Hope all is well with you and Patty….

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  3. Hi guys! Like the other readers, I too was in suspense – as well as recognizing the specific and necessary skills each of you possess to make this dream trip a reality! I certainly look forward to your posts – wishing you fun in Florida and beyond ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cathy! So glad you’re reading the blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. George and Keven I see a TV series in the making “This Old Trailer” staring Keven and George. Moving from state to state living on “the fringe”. Repaired so often you will be returning in a Streamlined. Sorry to make light of your plight your do add a dimension or resourcefulness which adds to the story of your trip. Ride-on! Dave n Mary

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Thanks, Dave and Mary. If this is the biggest sort of hassle we face on this trip, we’ll be very fortunate indeed.

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  5. Keven, bless your lucky stars that you have an all-around partner like Georges to handle those kinds of emergencies which can pop up on a Perimeter Tour, and–en plus–he can “burn” (cook) as they say…and bless his stars that he has a Keven to keep the Team K&G ship pointing in the right direction for the next 48 weeks. Bonne continuation…Vacherie missses you…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Colin. Yes, indeed, G and I are lucky to have found each other! Hoping all is well with you; we loved being with you in Vacherie.

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  6. You kept me in suspense with that battery story. I was so delighted to read the happy ending. As one who had to replace six batteries only 26 months old in our golf cart I was most sympathetic. They were done in by the 9 degree night of January 17 and were not pro-rated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s only money. You can’t take it with you. 😉

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    2. Thanks, Bill! Six batteries in 26 months? Ugh! And we sure hope not to experience any nine-degree nights on this trip. Always fun to hear from you!

      Like

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