First Trip With Our Westlake

Discussion in 'Let me tell you about my trip' started by NTL1991, Aug 27, 2017.

  1. NTL1991

    NTL1991 Member

    Apr 30, 2017
    Rhode Island, USA
    Just getting settled in back at home now, thought I'd post about our first trip with our new to us Coleman Westlake.

    The trip consisted of 2 nights at Mount Blue State Park in Weld, Maine, 2 nights at Lafayette Place Campground in Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire, and 2 nights at Mount Ascutney State Park in Winsdor, Vermont.

    I used our 1999 Grand Cherokee I6 for this trip, and it performed remarkably well, climbing the steep grades with no problems at all.

    Mount Blue State Park was very nice, not too busy, and our site (70) was a perfect size. Bathrooms were clean and staff was extremely friendly. There are some nice short trails to the beach/recreation area. It was a nice place to have a little picnic. We took a trip to Smalls Falls (by way of a restricted-use dirt logging road which made for a pretty white-knuckle drive... I've gotta remember to exclude non-paved roads in my Garmin!) and hiked the Brook Trail to Tumbledown Pond. When we left we first stopped at the dump station, following a beautiful new Airstream TT. The fellow Rhode Islanders graciously allowed us to pass to dump our modest gray water tote and cassette potty. I made the mistake of not filling the fresh water tank at the same time. I noticed a definite increase in sway due to the quarter-full fresh water tank, and had to slow a bit on the way to NH to compensate.

    We headed to Franconia Notch next, about a 2.5 hour drive. My group 47 battery was a little above half-charged when we left and I assumed the 12V feed from the Jeep was working correctly. I was disappointed to say the least when we arrived at Lafayette Place to find the battery was still half-charged... I did have a 400W inverter with me, however, so I was able to plug in the PUP to the inverter running off the Jeep for an hour each day. The converter only seems to charge at 8A at most according to my meter.

    Franconia Notch definitely had a different feel, much more touristy, but not in a bad way. Lots of people going all different places, and tons of options for hiking. The camp store was very nice and the staff was great. I inquired about gray water disposal, as there was no dump station, and that I had seen that the Mobile station in Lincoln, NH was the closest. They told me that there was no problem using the dish washing sink to dispose the gray water, which was quite a bit easier than lugging it into town. It's here, though, that the cap on the grey water tote snapped a wing, and would no longer lock correctly, so I had to resort to some Gorilla tape I had brought.

    We visited the Flume Gorge, which was beautiful, and hiked the Lonesome Lake Trail which ran right along the side of our campsite (73). We also hiked the Artist Bluff Trail as well. Lots of great views up there. We had to use the furnace one night in Franconia, just to get the chill out. We had brought a couple blankets as well as a down comforter so that kept us pretty toasty. I made a run to Walmart for a digital multimeter (which I left at home) to diagnose the 12V feed from the Jeep, and found the issue was at the trailer-end connector. I opened it up, cleaned the wires and re-tightened them down. I made the mistake of installing the sleeve 180 degrees off when reinstalling, however, and I thought I ruined my battery meter and the outside porch LED (they were the only two things I could witness not working with the PUP closed in the parking lot where I was tinkering, just outside of Lincoln, NH). When we got to Mount Ascutney and set up I realized NONE of the 12V devices worked, but found it was just the 30A battery fuse in the converter, phew! The battery did charge from the 12V feed during the drive, but I was unable to tell how many AH because the meter wasn't being powered.

    Mount Ascutney State Park was a VERY quiet campground, maybe even a little too quiet. When we arrived at ~3p on Friday, there were about 5 occupied sites including us. Our site, 35, was a good size but a little too shady for our liking. We giggled a bit at the lady a few sites up the road who, immediately after driving into the site, sprayed a full can's worth of bug spray over every inch of the site. The wind was even carrying the smell to our site. We drove up the toll road and hiked to the summit. We climbed the fire tower for some incredible 360 degree views of over a dozen mountain ranges. Claremont, NH was only a ~12 minute drive away, and the downtown area was surprisingly active and trendy. We stopped at an antique shop, consignment shop and stopped next door at the Sullivan County Humane Society to spend a little time getting to know a few feline friends in need.

    We had to use the furnace both nights and the morning at Mount Ascutney. It was getting down to about 45 at night there. When packing up this morning, the PUP gave me a bit of a scare... I was lowering the top, cranking and cranking as usual, maybe about 15 revolutions, then looked up to find the top in the exact same spot. The pin was engaged on the crank... Puzzled, I looked at each corner, all four were level. I tried cranking up this time, got one click out of the ratchet, then it froze. It took quite a bit of effort to crank counterclockwise at this point, but once it broke free, the top started coming down as usual. Not sure what caused it, but it did give me a good scare! We folded up and connected the Jeep. I glanced inside at my battery meter which showed a decent 13A of charging current into the pup battery from the 12V feed. Not too bad and definitely better than nothing. There's a modest little dump station as you leave the park which is always a plus.

    I stopped at Walmart and picked up a Hopkins "professional-grade" 7-pole connector which has a metal core. I plan on giving the wires a thorough cleaning, De-Oxit treatment and installing the new connector.

    I was skeptical about the BAL leveler, but even with it's relatively steep price, it's been AMAZING. I kept seeing guys backing up their rigs, three, four times to add blocks of wood to level everything out.

    My Dometic Trimline awning has also been fantastic no problems at all, even with a pretty heavy rain/thunderstorm the last night at Mount Blue. It's simple to put up and take down and the legs fold up very efficiently.

    The Norcold fridge worked well too, and now after installing a better baffle and air-sealing it well, I need to keep it below MAX COOL else the bottom of the fridge is ice.

    I was debated whether to install a power roof vent or purchase an Endless Breeze fan, and I chose the latter. I installed a couple 12V/USB marine-grade receptacles and it's been an amazing asset, and uses so little power. I was packing it up in the box today, and was surprised to see Made in USA. Nice!

    The cabinet under the couch, where the water heater is, has always been very moist. I'm pretty certain the original water heater has a small leak. I replaced the anode rod when I bought the pup a couple months ago and it was just a bare core. I think that'll be the next big purchase I need to make. For now I keep a large-size Damp Rid in the cabinet and empty it often.

    So that's my long-winded post about our little "introductory" week-long trip. Now we can confidently gauge what we need, what we don't, what to change next time, etc. Always learning...

  2. JPBar

    JPBar Well-Known Member

    Sep 22, 2016
    Sounds like you had a great trip and only minor glitches to fix. Enjoy you next outing!

Share This Page