A family on the road living fulltime in an RV.

Tag: Solar

Weekend in Wyoming: The Great American Eclipse

Leading up to the eclipse I was ho-hum.  It seemed like people has been talking about it for months and months. Friends of ours were going to a fulltime RV family…

Leading up to the eclipse I was ho-hum.  It seemed like people has been talking about it for months and months. Friends of ours were going to a fulltime RV family solar eclipse meet-up in Oregon but I thought it was just a fun little excuse  to get together or a theme or something. I just didn’t get the hype. As a child, I remembered seeing a partial eclipse and feeling underwhelmed. Then two weeks ago, I decided to look up what all the fuss was about and learned that this eclipse was special because it was going to cut across the entire United States. Cool. I also looked at the map and saw that the path of totality was crossing not too far north of us in Wyoming. I really wasn’t sure what the path of totality meant but a road trip sounded fun. Still we had just gotten back from a two month road trip and Thing 1 had only been back in school a week. Certainly, it wouldn’t be worth pulling him out for a day and driving five hours with toddlers for a two-minute and twenty-second show in the sky. After all, we would see nearly 90% covered in the Springs. How much better could 10% be?

100% better.

Not only was the eclipse one of the most incredible things I have witnesses in my life, the entire weekend was pretty darn magical.

Being last-minute planners meant we didn’t have reservations so we took our chances and headed up to Muddy Mountain, Wyoming in hopes of finding a spot to boondock on BLM land. It was getting dark as we wound our way up the dirt road and we were starting to get nervous about finding a spot to set up the RV. Parking in a campground after dark is not the best idea but finding dispersed camping on public lands after dark is dumb. Really dumb if you are pulling a big trailer. Of course, the setting sun didn’t stop me from jumping out to take a picture on our way up the mountain.

In the distance, we made out the outline a fifth wheel on a ridge. We hoped it was the overflow land we were looking for. It turned out it was. We couldn’t see much of our surroundings that night but we found a place to park.

The next morning we were surprised by splendor.

Credit for these photos goes to Thing 4 who takes it upon himself to wake me up before dawn. Day. After. Day.

Our spot was gorgeous. (Here are the coordinates if you want to bookmark it. 42.690362,-106.3228907)

And so was the view out our front door.

Paragliders came out to enjoy the quiet morning sky.

I would totally do this if I could get a written guarantee I wouldn’t die.

It was  perfect spot to set up our portable solar panel.

And the perfect place for some morning cuddles.

He’s totally worth the gazillion hours of lost sleep.

We took a morning walk down the dirt road. Nico got tired after five seconds and wanted to hitch a ride.

Then we took a drive around the area and may or may not have gotten chastised by angry ranchers for being on their land. We were driving down a dirt state road but somehow missed the sign that we were leaving state land and entering private property. Oooops. Our bad. We apologized profusely and promised to never do it again.

Later that afternoon, we took the Littles for a hike in the woods. We didn’t take any chances on meandering onto private land and chose a maintained trail in Casper Mountain County Park. Thing 3 gathered 10 thousand very special sticks.

Thing 4 fell in the grass and wasn’t sure what to think until his big brother “fell down” too. Then it was all giggles.

Thing 4 did most of the hike himself until he threw a rock on his own face. That takes skill. After that he was done walking and just wanted to ride.

Back at home Thing 3 played with the universal toy of childhood.

That evening the opening act was pretty spectacular.

And it kept getting better


And better.

And better.

Until the sun caught our trailer on fire. Kidding that’s he reflection of the sunset. (Can you imagine how cool this would look when we polish our trailer!)

We weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the show.

The Littles were pretty mesmerized too.

The sunrises and sunsets alone were worth the effort but we had no idea of the show that was to follow the next day.

Late the following morning, we set up our camera for the one picture we would end up getting and sat back to enjoy the show.

The eclipse began. It was cool and all but I started to feel a little smug like I was entitled to my “ho-hum” attitude.

Our neighbors, a group of aging hippies, were awesome and way more interesting than the eclipse. They set up a telescope that we could look through and shouted fun things like, “time for your edibles” and “everyone take off your clothes”. I want to be them when I grow up. 😉

They even provided entertainment. I really want to be him when I grow up. Like really.

The eclipse was slow-moving so between doing dishes, watching a unicyclist, and taking care of the Littles I checked it every 10 minutes or so. Thing 1 found a good spot to chill and cuddle with his little brother for a little while.

You might be wondering about what we did with the Littles during the eclipse. You aren’t alone. I spent a week worrying wondering about it because obviously I didn’t want them to lose their vision and by the barrage of eclipse safety in the media you would have thought the sun was a new phenomena. I have no idea how the entire world is not already blind. Anyway, the Littles don’t watch much television but this was one of those time when the benefits outweighed the waste of time. We set them up with a show, toys, and snacks in the RV while we enjoyed the eclipse right outside the door. It was a perfect set up because I didn’t have to worry about them trying to sneak a peek and I could micromanage remind my teens about staying safe without distraction. RVing for the win again!

The temperature began to drop and we put on jackets but even though the sun was nearly covered it was still pretty bright.

Until it wasn’t.

Suddenly, it started getting dark. Being in denial that the Bigs are actually pretty grown up, I was still worried about them frying their eyeballs. Then someone said, “The sunset is all around us!” I stopped worrying about the Bigs taking off their glasses to soon and spun around to take in the most amazing 360 degree sunset. Next someone else shouted, “Look at the corona!” I pulled off my glasses and, overwhelmed by the beauty and the most pure light I’ve ever seen lost my mind. Lost. My. Mind.

Don’t believe me?

Watch this video. Ignore my haphazard filming (I was focused on the eclipse.) and the fact I sound like a lunatic. It’s worth noting that I’m typically a pretty reserved person.

The eclipse was one of the most intense and beautiful 2 minutes and 20 seconds of my life. It was sublime in the truest sense of the word. Mind blowing. My body buzzed for a full 30 minutes afterwards. The moment when the last sliver of sun disappeared, that moment of totality when I took off my glasses, was like instantly being transported to another world. Everything familiar but so different. Completely surreal. A 360 degree sunset. And the corona of the sun… No words. Just awe.

And now I get it.

I’m already looking forward to 2024.

And here’s the one picture we got.

Love and Laughter,

If you enjoyed this post consider connecting with us! 1. Sign up to have posts emailed to your inbox. 2. Subscribe to the RSS Feed or 3. “like” Newschool Nomads on Facebook  Simple dimple!

Like food and fitness? Follow along as I film a workout in every state and explore finding a healthy balance on the road at Girl Heroes!

Share this:
2 Comments on Weekend in Wyoming: The Great American Eclipse

Our RV Solar Power Setup and Giveaway

What’s not to love about solar power? Harvesting the power of the sun to provide electricity to run your RV appliances and electronics, without waste or pollution? Yes please! When we upgraded…

What’s not to love about solar power? Harvesting the power of the sun to provide electricity to run your RV appliances and electronics, without waste or pollution? Yes please!


RV Solar Power by Solarland USA

When we upgraded our RV one of the features we were most excited about was the residential refrigerator.  While current models have gotten quite efficient, a full-size refrigerator will suck your RV battery dry pretty quickly. This may not be much of an issue when you are moving from park to park where electrical hookups are available to run your refrigerator and charge your batteries, but when we decided to set out on an epic road trip from Key West, FL to Anchorage, AK we realized we may not have that luxury at many points along the way. We got in touch with the good people at Solarland USA to see about trying out their Sun Wanderer RV solar kit and they were happy to oblige. They are an international company who have up until recently focused on the wholesale distribution of their products. Fortunately for us they are ramping up their retail marketing and they agreed to send us four 150W high efficiency panels, a portable 90W solar kit, two Blue Sky Solar Boost 3000i charge controllers, an IPN Pro Remote (which lets us monitor the current charge coming in, battery level as well as current being used), cables, and a cool solar lantern.

RV Solar Installation - DIY

RV Solar Installation – DIY

On our way to Alaska, we stopped in Indiana to visit family where I set to work installing them with the help of my super handy brother-in-law Jeff. The panels are high quality and light-weight. We had the trailer wired pretty quickly, running the two sets of cables through the (unused) washing machine vent, down through a chase, into the underbelly storage area, and finally into the utility bay where we built a panel to mount the charge controllers next to the batteries. Wiring the charge controllers to the batteries was a little tricky as our battery bank is still a work-in-progress. We have two gell cell 12W batteries and two Trojan T-105 flooded acid 6V batteries. Since we had two charge controllers we were able to run the battery banks independently with the inverter running off the Trojans and our 12V house system running off the gel cells. Since this initial configuration, I have taken to running both charge controllers to the Trojans since out 12V demand is very low (most of our 12v lights are LED and the refrigerator runs off the inverter). The 90W portable solar charger has a built-in charge controller which allows us to Connect it directly to our gell cell batteries to keep them charged. With this setup, weather permitting. we can operate all our electrical systems, residential refrigerator, charge our laptops and mobile devices as well as our oldest son’s keyboard.

Solar panels in the Wild: Denali National Park, Alaska

Solar panels in the Wild: Denali National Park, Alaska

The panels and charge controllers have held up great since our journey to Alaska. We are now looking forward to optimizing the system further so we can enjoy more ‘wild camping’ throughout the western United States. Future upgrades to the system will be to replace the two gell cell batteries with two more Trojan T-105’s so that we can run it as a single bank. Replace our 1000w inverter with a 3000w “whole house” model. Add 400w more PV panels to better accommodate my large screen iMac.

RV Solar - Homer Alaska

RV Solar Power – Homer Alaska

DIY Solar Installation Video

Give Away!!

What Do I Win?

The winner gets one 90 watt portable solar charge kit.

Who is eligible?
Anyone 18 years of age or older within the 50 United States of America

How Can I Win?
Entering to win using the widget above:

Mandatory: ‘Like’ Newschool Nomads and Solarland USA on Facebook (yes, you must like both to win)
Want a better chance at winning? Expand your interaction and receive additional entries

  • Leave a comment below and tell us how you’ll use your new portable solar charger (counts as 2 entries)
  • Tweet this Giveaway
  • Pin this Giveaway on Pinterest

So that’s 6 chances you have to win, plus an extra credit by leaving a comment below!

This contest runs from Wednesday 11/05/2014 to Wednesday 11/12/2014 at 11:59 pm EST (Eastern Standard Time). The winner will be announced on 11/13/2014 via private email, and shared with our friends on Newschool Nomads’ Facebook page.

The Fine (legal) Print:

You must be a human age 18 or older
You must be a Facebook fan of Newschool Nomads and Solarland USA to win.
Mandatory entry must be done first before additional entries are accepted.
The Winner will be contacted through Facebook and has 72 hours to respond before another applicant is selected.
You must enter the giveaway using the widget above (if you simply like NSN, SLUSA, etc on facebook you will NOT be entered)
Giveaway is NOT endorsed by Facebook or Twitter
All entries are verified.

Disclaimer: The products reviewed in this post were provided to us free of charge by Solarland USA.  No other form of compensation was offered or accepted. All expressed opinions are our own.

Share this:
65 Comments on Our RV Solar Power Setup and Giveaway

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search