This blog is about our travels in our solar powered "Airstream" and living off grid, in our passive solar home, near Bancroft, Ontario, Canada.

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Monday, 24 September 2018


Today we are getting sixteen new batteries, YEA!!! Our old batteries lasted 6 years but are done and need replacing. When I say done I mean really done. They wouldn't hold a charge overnight.

While we were waiting for the batteries to arrive Mary made healthy donuts. What's a healthy donut? Ingredients: almond and coconut flour with psyllium, eggs, butter, vanilla, and cocoa powder. These are baked in the oven just like baking bread.

I'll update the blog once all the batteries are in.


My battery bank consists of sixteen batteries connected in two banks, 8 batteries to a bank. Each bank of batteries sits on two carts with 4 batteries to a cart. This way I can rotate the batteries throughout the year in the hopes of getting another year of use out of them. Check back in 6 years to see how that experiment is working.

All 16 batteries in place and connected. Each cart is coulour coded and each battery labelled so it is easy to keep accurate records on each battery regardless of where it gets moved to.

Mike is double checking the set points for the different stages of charging. The batteries go through 4 stages: Bulk, Absorption, Float and Equalization and each has a different charge level. I need to get the batteries to the float stage at least once a week. Equalization charge is done as required.

Tomorrow I will check the computer and see what stage of charging we reached today. It sounds complicated but once you've done it a few times it becomes quite logical.

Saturday, 22 September 2018


One of our large windows was shattered last August. It held together quite well until yesterday's winds.

It was time to do a proper cleanup. The window has three panes of glass and we are waiting to get a price to replace it. If we don't hear soon we may just leave it as is until the spring.

With all the natural light it's Mary's preferred spot when she is designing a quilt pattern. This is an owl design from her workshop in New Hampshire. It is still hours (maybe even months) away from becoming a quilt.

Friday, 21 September 2018


I soon slipped into a morning routine and once breakfast was out of the way would head out for the day. The trailer was never visited by strangers and the closest camping neighbour was a half kilometer away. If you like solitude then this was a perfect spot. I did see campers in tents who left everything on site when they went exploring for the day.

My first destination was the AMC center at Crawford Notch where I could get a free wi-fi connection. Friday I was surprised to find the parking lot closed to the public.

It was a busy highway with a wide shoulder and the runners kept well back from the traffic.

Groups of supporters lined the route to cheer on their favourite runners and hand out water as they went by.

Each team's support van was decorated and runner's names posted along with their run times and team standings.

At first glance I thought this van had a toilette seat attached to its roof but then realized it was just an inflated toy flipped by the wind.

Each team made sure their van was unique and easy to spot.

It was a fun morning sitting by the lake watching the runners go by.

Thursday, 20 September 2018


Spent a day poking around the railroad yard in North Conway N.H. last week. They run a number of tourist trains out of this station throughout the year.

I'm always impressed with the tools designed to solve industrial problems. Imagine trying to turn around a locomotive or bring in rail cars from different tracks for servicing. How do you do that in a limited space. The solution was the turntable, a device which allowed rail rolling stock to be turned or moved in a limited space. We see a similar design with swing bridges but they don't turn when cars are sitting on them. I suspect the early turntables were small and moved by hand.

This is the same turntable but you can see the locomotive waiting its turn to be brought into the yellow shed for servicing.

The old train stations were the hub of the community, always a place where goods were delivered and dispersed years ago before we had airplanes, computers, UPS or PURLATOR. As a kid I would help the delivery man at the local CPR station collect bushels of chilled chickens in ice and stack them in a rail car chilled with ice-blocks. At night the car would be collected by a train on its way to Toronto and those chickens would end up in restaurants or grocery stores throughout the city.

Trains don't have a caboose any more but back when those chickens were on their way to Toronto  every freight train had a brakeman who rode at the back of the train in the caboose. When the train needed to change tracks the brakeman flipped the switch or unhitched the car if one needed to be left on a siding.  Railroading was much more labour intensive back then.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018


After getting Mary settled into the Silver Fox Inn I headed north into the White Mountains of New Hampshire looking for a restricted campsite along an old logging road. These sites have no services, not even a picnic table but do allow free camping for up to 14 days. Each site is marked with a numbered post and the regulations are clearly seen on the white display panel.

The AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) lodge was just a few miles away in Crawford Notch and they offer excellent accommodations for hikers and those passing through the area.

They very kindly make their beautiful lobby available to the public along with free wi-fi service;.  The lodge seemed to be well used with several school groups there throughout the week and folks of all ages walking in from camping up in the mountains. I was impressed to see folks older than me walking with full backpacks. You can click HERE to find out more about the AMC.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018


Last week Mary took a quilting class from David Taylor in New Hampshire. On the way down we needed a campsite for one night and stayed here by Lake Champlain. I don't usually stay in private campgrounds but this one was so clean and quiet we stayed here again on the way home.

The next night we were in a National Forest campground just outside of Waterville Valley. Once again quiet but no electricity or showers. Surprisingly there was only one other campsite occupied.

Early the next morning Mary booked into the Silver Fox Inn where the week long quilting workshop was being held.

Look at the smile on her face. Can you tell she is delighted to be here. Click HERE to learn more about David Taylor and his quilt classes.

Once I had Mary unloaded and all her fabrics and sewing material safely in her room I headed off to find my own campsite for the week.

More on that tomorrow.

Sunday, 16 September 2018


Maggie and Sean announced their engagement when we were together last week on Lake Nipissing. They asked us to hold off on sharing the good news until they had a chance to tell friends and family. That's done so now everyone knows and we couldn't be happier. Wedding plans are being made for Thanksgiving. Congratulations Sean and Maggie!!! and Happy Birthday Maggie.