All Tales From The Road since the beginning of time:
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STERLING POWER B2B CHARGER REVIEW
The Sterling Power BB1260 Battery to Battery (B2B) Charger play a major role in keeping our camper van electrical system balanced and healthy. How’s that? The B2B charger uses the van alternator power to charge our house (auxiliary) battery while we drive. It’s an install-and-forget device: it turns itself ON/OFF automatically when driving the van, doing its things without user intervention. Neat! It means that we don’t have to worry about running out of power AND that the house battery lifespan is maximized. Sounds too good? Keep reading this review as we get into more details…
VanLife Actual Cost
NOVEMBER 2018TOTAL FOR TWO PERSONS
Auto Insurance $133
Gas and Fuel $513
Alcohol & Bar $280
Travel Medical Insurance $182
(complementary to free Canadian Medicare)
Van Maintenance $788
Everything Else $274
(Cell, Internet, Netflix, Pharmacy, etc.)
Tales From The Road
November 2018 Interactive Map:
Today we’re swapping Isabelle’s Avid Code brakes for the new Shimano XT 4 pistons (M8020), for a few reasons:
1. Having common parts is a big deal for us: it means less spares to carry around (pads) and less tools too (bleeding kit).
2. Bleeding Shimano brakes is much simpler than SRAM brakes!
3. DOT fluid (SRAM) is corrosive and toxic, while mineral oil (Shimano) is pretty much like vegetable oil; it makes awesome dumplings.
4. It’s also interesting to note that DOT fluid (for SRAM brakes) doesn’t age well as it absorbs humidity after the bottle is opened; we don’t have to worry about that with Shimano’s mineral oil. We buy 1 liter bottle and carry it around.
5. At last the CODE are great brakes, but Isabelle never really got used to them; she much prefer the feel of the Shimano XT… (Antoine too!)
Very cool spot by the river, with many pools at different temperatures. Worth the detour!
Road 120 (Tioga Road) going through Yosemite National Park DELIVERS!
Just make sure it’s open before going as it’s closed during snow season…
A steep and strenuous hike with incredible views of the Yosemite Valley!
BOOK IN ADVANCE, or show up at the campground reservation booth before it opens in the morning; if you’re lucky (like us) they will have a few spots available. We normally don’t pay for campground, but we think it’s worth it here!
Classic hike trail to do in Yosemite National Park. While Yosemite falls are dry, these two falls are still… falls! Probably not as impressive as they could be in spring, but definitely worth the hike. Even though this trail is popular, it isn’t an easy hike.
Parker Lake is a short hike (6 km total, out-and-back) on a mellow grade. It’s not a highlight, but if you’re looking for a easy hike in the area it’s definitely worth it; the lake is peaceful and the view is awesome!
Free dispersed campground located near a creek. Quiet.
Isabelle and Eric went to hike Duck Pass. Mellow hike, one of the favorite in the Eastern Sierras! Many lakes to see along the hike and the views are astonishing!
Meanwhile, Antoine went for a bicycle ride. Mammoth Bike Park is closed for the season, but it turns out that “Brake Through” is the perfect climbing trail: smooth grade and not too technical. I needed to break-in my new brake pads, so I chose to ride down DC-10: it’s sometimes steep, sometime technical, but always sandy! You’re basically surfing sand from top to bottom!
The area has many boondocking options; just drive through the service roads and you’ll find something you like 🙂
14F OUT, 66F IN 🙂
Here’s a mellow hike that starts at 10,200ft and bring you up to 11,100ft elevation into the alpine.Don’t forget your skates! (?!)
Apparently, it is more common than we thought!
(À écouter avec du son si vous êtes québécois et nostalgique)
Easily accessible (3 minutes walk). Hot temperature (around 105F). Recommended!
Yeah we’re definitely a bit late in the season…
AWESOME BEERS! All of them! Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed!.
Awesome desert landscape! Find your way up the boulders to enjoy the view.
Sometimes it’s OK to rest!
We started late, it was cold and we didn’t have time to do the Chocolate-Ruwau Loop Trail for additional views… Nice hike, but not our favorite!
We’ve been procrastinating WAYYYY too long before sanitizing our water system, but better late than never so here we go. We just followed the instructions on Sanidumps (we used about 1/2 bleach for our 25 gallons tank).
We found this BEER BONG (!) on Amazon, so we can reach to our fresh water tank hole. The hose is a little short, but it works for us…
The water tank’s drain is finally put to use!
Driving through the valley, the Eastern Sierras are an incredible sight. But their inner beauty is even more mind blowing… So park your van, put your hiking shoes on and go get it!!
The view from Kearsarge Pass on King Canyon National Park makes it well worth the hike. If you still have energy, scramble your way up Mount Gould; it’s about an hour to climb.
Dramatic view on the valley and the Eastern Sierras, just 5 minutes drive from Independence! There was no one else here, but if it’s taken, just open Google Maps in satellite view; there are back roads with pull outs everywhere in the area…
Really awesome boondocking spot surrounded by boulders all over. It’s very popular and crowded, but still worth going. Just show up, drive and find a spot near a boulder!
Sure, Alabama Hills is a must-see (as its popularity and crowd testifies): from out there, the Eastern Sierras are magnificent. Rugged, dramatic and huge. But trust us, their inner beauty is even more mind blowing… So leave your van in the valley, put on your hiking shoes and go see for yourself! It’s worth it.
This is a not your typical hike-in-a-park; some sections are exposed and technical (scrambling) so get ready! We turned around shortly after Lower Boy Scout Lake as it’s quite a long hike.
You can actually see Alabama Hills at the bottom of the valley in the picture below:
After the hike, we headed towards Death Valley and spent the night on this Vista Point which overlooks the road descending into Death Valley. Neat.
(click on “play” button to activate, then click full-screen at the lower-right and drag with your mouse to view 360)
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There are not really dispersed camping option within the National Park, so for the first time of in 15 months (excluding when we had friends visiting) we paid for a campground!
I’m not sure why I keep playing Backgammon with Isabelle, she always beat me to it…
It is quite a long drive to get to that point and we weren’t sure it worth the detour, but it does! If you have the time, do it!
Probably the main attraction of Death Valley!
Natural Hot Springs easily accessible. Temperature feels like 98-100F. Not the cleanest water but it’s worth stopping by.
After soaking in the hot springs, we were ready to go at the China Date Farm. It’s been a while (almost a year!) since Isabelle wanted to go. They grow many varieties and it’s possible to taste most of them! They make delicious date milkshake and their date bread is as good!
SkyPark at Santa’s Village is a small “bike park” with a few trails ranging from beginner to expert. It’s mostly gravity-oriented but it’s all PEDAL-assist (no chairlift), so we can’t possibly understand how they can charge 68$ for a day-pass… but hey, the entry ticket get you to see Santa any time of the year so what the heck. Fortunately (for us) we only found out we had to pay after our day; we promise we’ll pay next time!
We noticed an irrigation system on the trails, so it’s the best dirt we rode in a while; kudos for that! From flow, techy and jumps, the trails more or less emulate what you would find in places like Bellingham (WA) or British-Columbia, so that was fun.
Sorry we forgot to take pictures of the trails, but here is Isabelle above the clouds instead:
Best hot springs ever! There are a couple of hot pools and temperature is just perfect. These pools are surrounding a cold water river (that feels more like a lake). There is plenty space to hang around with hammocks, tents, etc.
There are two ways to access this hot springs.
Bradford Ridge Path is the longest hike (about 5 mile total) and is the way we took. There is a long steep section, might be challenging your knees! The other way is from Bowen Ranch (less than 4 miles). We never hiked it. We read there is a fee of 5$ (10$ if staying overnight).
Oh! and be aware half the people are nude. This is why we haven’t take too many pictures…
San Juan trail is a nice blue trail that descent over 1000m into the Cleveland National Forest, just south of Los Angeles. Many people choose to climb it, but since we met with Bus Hops and had 2 vans, we shuttled it 🙂 It starts somewhat technical, but it get easier as you progress in the descent. We normally prefer more technical trail, but we must say we really had fun and we think it’s worth the detour!
We spent the afternoon at Laguna Beach and we feel like beach bums already.
Jonathan is Stairsteps:
Isabelle in Laguna Ridge:
A 5,000ft drop into Los Angeles? Who knew!
We enjoyed Mt. Wilson Trail for its huge loss of elevation, but also because it’s a good all-around trail: it’s relatively technical at first (but then gets easier), tight switchbacks are kept to a minimum and the pace is pretty fast all along. Oh and the views are great too!
For 25$ each, Mt Wilson Adventure Shuttles dropped us on top. Worth it!
We added Sturtevant, Zion (descent) & Upper Winter Creek (brutal climb) to the mix, but we wouldn’t recommend it as the fun factor is very low (hiking trail with super tight switchbacks and too much overgrown vegetation).
TO BE CONTINUED...
All Tales From The Road since the beginning of time: