TRIP #8–GETTYSBURG AND OUR E-TREK

After two failed services at Mercedes-Benz, and a month at the Roadtrek factory, it was finally time to put our newly-repaired E-trek to the test. We are happy to report that we actually made it through two nights without any catastrophes. As on previous trips to Gettysburg, we drove 80% of the way there after dinner and camped out at our favorite Walmart. We were later getting off than expected due to heavy rain that started about 5:00 PM. Karl waited until the rain subsided to load the bikes onto the bike rack, and we were on the road about 8:15 PM. We arrived at Walmart at 11:00 PM after listening to a few chapters of “The Martian,” which we had downloaded from Audible.com.

For the drive, we had the hot water turned on, but we didn’t turn the heater on until we went to bed. We slept very comfortably, so much in fact that we actually overslept Saturday morning. Usually one or both of the dogs gets us up at 6:00 AM; however, they were content to sleep until almost 7:30 AM. We had an 8:00 AM appointment to drop them off at the Cozy Canine, a great doggie day care and boarding place located in Fairfield, PA, about ten miles from Gettysburg. (For more on the Cozy Canine, visit Traveling with Dogs–Doggy Day Care and Boarding.)

The first thing we did was check the battery, which was at 88%/25 Volts. Despite being “adequately charged,” we were unable to brew our morning coffee with our Keurig. Even starting the engine didn’t help. This was very disappointing, since we had been able to brew coffee in the past. Since we were already running late, we just left for the Cozy Canine. After the 40 minute drive, our battery strength was 93%/26 Volts. After dropping off the dogs, we gave it another try and we finally had success in the form of hot coffee! Still, we will need to find a better solution to our morning coffee, because we don’t want to wait 30-40 minutes for our first cup of the day!

We arrived at the Gettysburg Visitors’ Center about 9:00 AM. After a brief trip to the bookstore so I could purchase a jacket (I had forgotten to grab mine when we were leaving) we were ready for our bike ride. We had been to Gettysburg many times in the past, but never when the fall colors were as beautiful as they were on this trip. The weather was warming up nicely. We used our new Sony Action Camera to film parts of the ride (videos coming soon). We also enjoyed climbing up to the top of an observation tower to admire the view of Eisenhower Farm.

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We relocated our E-trek closer to downtown Gettysburg and used the microwave to heat up mac & cheese for lunch. After lunch, we walked into town and visited some of the shops. Then we drove back to the battlefield and parked in a wooded picnic area on the southern end of the Confederate line on Seminary Ridge, so Karl could do his typical grueling bike ride without listening to me complain about the hills. I enjoyed my very first shower in the E-trek, and it was much better than I expected. I relaxed on the sofa until Karl got back from his ride.

Karl had at sometime during his ride cut his leg—don’t ask, I didn’t! He asked if I had a Band-Aid, and I remembered that our E-trek came with a Mercedes-Benz-supplied First Aid kit, so we opened it up. It actually contained enough supplies to run a small Emergency Room—there were slings, rolls of gauze, scissors—and everything was labeled in four languages. We finally found what looked like Band-Aids, labeled “wound plasters.”

After the “wound plaster” had been successfully applied, it was time to head to our destination for the night, a winery about eight miles from Gettysburg. We had joined Harvest Hosts a few months ago, but this was our first chance to try it out since our E-trek was back from Kitchener. Hauser Estate Winery was located atop a hill in Biglerville, PA. The view was gorgeous, and the tasting room was lovely. Since it was getting dark, I snapped a few pictures, and then we enjoyed sampling some wine. However, since this was our first time at a winery, we didn’t realize you had to protect your glass from fruit flies that are apparently attracted to the harvest. Then we noticed other guests had napkins over their glasses. So we ended up trading in our glasses for bottles and keeping our glasses covered. There was live entertainment too, which was very festive. We would definitely stay there again.

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On Sunday morning,the battery strength was 86%/25 Volts and we had the same problem getting the coffee to brew. We started the engine, and while it was idling I took some more pictures of the beautiful winery surroundings. Finally, after about 30 minutes, we had success, so we have concluded that the batteries have to be “fully charged” in order for the inverter to produce enough power to start the Keurig coffee maker. When we heard a buzzing sound from the inverter, we knew the coffee would finally start to brew,

We were anxious to pick up the dogs, especially since this was the first time we had left Daisy overnight. We were about 20 minutes from the Cozy Canine. Since we were ahead of schedule, we called ahead and Sharon, the owner, met us in the driveway with Topper and Daisy. All had gone well—she said Daisy stayed close to Topper when playing with the other dogs, and of course, they shared a kennel so they could snuggle together. Needless to say, both of them slept the entire ride home, exhausted from probably 6+ hours of outdoor playtime.

We were home in record time, our only stop being to refuel with diesel. We had planned to stop and dump the grey and black tanks; however, the campsite on the way home had a 45-minute wait, so we just did it our usual way—emptying into a 3-gallon wastebasket and pouring down our toilet. Fortunately, we have a powder room adjoining our laundry room, so it is a short walk from the driveway through the garage. Karl emptied about 5 gallons of black and close to 20 gallons of grey. We each took two showers during the trip, but were still surprised by the water usage; the capacity of the grey water is 21 gallons, so we nearly filled it up. We did not feel we were excessive with water usage—other than the showers, we only brushed our teeth, washed our hands, and cleaned a few dishes.

While the overall performance of the E-trek was good, we still need to follow up on the following issues:

  1. Fault message on Webasto hot water heater: Several times we have noticed a 6-pulse fault message on the Webasto control panel. According to the Webasto manual, this indicates “overheating or exceeding gradient water temperature.” It seems to occur when we have it set to summer mode/hot water production 70°C. Although we can easily reset the heater by turning off the Webasto for five seconds, we need to found out why the Webasto is overheating.
  2. Confirm battery strength requirements for our Keurig coffee maker, which, according to the Keurig website, needs 1500 Watts to heat up. We will also investigate coffee makers that use less wattage; however, we do like the convenience of the Keurig K-cups.

Hopefully we will resolve these issues prior to our next trip, already planned for next weekend, since it is Parents’ Weekend at Boston University. With the new alternator installed, the serpentine belt will hopefully stay in place and we will have our first successful overnight trip to Boston as well! At least it probably won’t be the hottest day of the year…

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