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Sunday, April 11, 2010

First Nite Out

Have spent a number of nites inside our tent with SAM during the past two months. Today/tonite, however, is our first nite outside.

Worked my tush off the past two days beautifying our garden/yard. At the moment, there isn't a blade of grass out of place; all trees are trimmed; all shrubs are manicured; all lawn edges are trimmed...and the lawn is a lush deep green with very few broadleaf intruders. There is a lot of satisfaction in working on your own home...may be my last effort for quite a very long while...but then again, I do plan to return to Bellingham every month or so to do my Company paperwork, etc.; maybe I'll take a couple more days out to take a stab at keeping things at home looking sharp.

Since SAM is housed at my Office; drove there after today's yard work. Took my first post-surgery long walk with SAM...up and down some steep hills, lots of vehicle traffic on busy streets, finally reaching home after 1-1/2 hours. Knee, legs & feet are all OK. Stopped 3 or 4 times to chat with passersby and introduce SAM. Upon arrival home, set up our tent, put SAM inside together with my sleeping bag, and stood back to admire. All went according or our Warehouse practices. Bet the neighbors were taken a bit back...ours is a somewhat upscale neighborhood with strict rules, such as "no tents", "no trailers", "no boats", etc, etc. I'm certain to receive a letter before the next 24 hours go by, admonishing me for numerous rule violations.

Will sleep tonite in our tent with SAM.

Upon checking battery consumption, found that SAM consumed from 12.65 volts down to 12.35 volts during the 1-1/2 hour walk. That seems excessive, until I realized (stupid stupid stupid) that I had the front wheel caliper brake engaged for at least an hour. When I noticed the brake on and released it, SAM's motor relaxed noticeably. Probably used some heavy electrons during that very stupid stunt.

Also charged two of the three green bank batteries. Strange as it seems, the 20 watt solar panel charged it's battery up to 13.05 volts, whereas the 90 watt panel charged it's battery only to 12.75 volts. Must pay close attention to charging rates. The 90 watt panel should have put in at least 4.5 amps/hour, whereas the smaller panel only provides 1.5 amps/hour. I don't have a proper amp/hour meter to check the batteries...must use the volt meter. Perhaps I must after all invest in that $500.00 amp/hour meter. Having sponsorships is beginning to sound better all the time...but as I have already said, I'm not used to "receiving". Is a change in principals about to take place???

SAM is becoming VERY heavy. Weighs out at about 150# at the moment and must add clothes, and food. Structurally, SAM is good. Her front wheel is fixed; i.e., not steerable. To turn SAM, I must lift (say, TILT) her front drive wheel off the ground. Not a big problem on flat surfaces, but extremely difficult to do on up or down grades. Nearly lost control of her in heavy traffic on the way home. Then, too, this is my first serious walk in over two months and with the surgery and all, I am a bit weak in the feet, legs and arms. Then, too, I'm not 39 anymore !!! I will, however, ramp up our walks to be ready for Wednesday Week...April 20 departure date.

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