Eckbeck Campground, Minnesota, Bay Days and new batteries

Lake Superior Harbor in Duluth

Lake Superior Harbor in Duluth

We spent a week in Duluth doing the city stuff and then we discovered forest campgrounds!  The cities have their charm and many sites to see, and we partook of a few.  However it is still the city and we really prefer the more natural settings, but we needed the city to purchase add-on items for our simple solar system, (see last paragraph).

Forest campgrounds are remote, often off-grid with no utilities and vault toilets.
Remember that we are still self-contained and can be somewhat independent of utilities.  (I have my own powder room). We have fallen in-love with Minnesota in the summertime!  We like the fresh air and not needing the air conditioner or the furnace while camping.

This is our site in Eckbeck Campground in Finland State Forest.  It fills up quickly each morning by noon.  It is a stop for many travelers on their way to a destination, and then there are a few like us who stay a while enjoying the local sites and trails.  It is midway on the north shore drive, so we plan to use this spot as a home base.  We will drive the north and south of the shoreline without the fiver in tow.

Silver Bay has a population of about 1942,is proud of it’s Italian style grocery store with their own meats and pastries.  It has a

General store-like hardware store, a wonderful Northern Grill for classy foods, and a friendly celebration of Bay days was happening while we were visiting.

We took  the guided tour of the Mining processing Plant and saw boats in the safe harbor being loaded with iron ore pellets that will be shipped to a Cleveland steel making plant.  The actual mining is done about 40 miles away in Hibbing and brought by rail car to Silver Bay’s Northern Shore Plant.  It appeared to be an environmentally progressive company and busy industry for the town.  About 400 local residents are employed here.

We had a good time roaming about during Bay Days, but were so busy with our own activities that we only glimpsed some of the other activities: a car show, arts and craft booths, books for sale by local authors, a soapbox derby, a pancake breakfast and a concert and street dance.  Phil reminisced about the soapbox derby coaster that he made as a boy, it was named “Groucho”!

We had to take some of our Minnesota time to deal with RV issues.

While trying to fill the galley tank to clear the level sensor, we overflowed water below from the vent pipe (we think).  We had to remove the under-belly cover (lots of screws and bolts) to check out any damage.  Fortunately, we could not find any problems, but decided to air it out for a day or so and then we took an afternoon to put all of those screws and bolts back.

We also replaced the batteries and purchased a multi-stage charger controller.  We actually bought 4 wet cell batteries, but did not have enough room to vent them in our battery compartment.  We re-designed our thought process on this and feel that the AGM battery with sealed technology (no venting necessary and no water maintenance to deal with) to fit our needs better than the wet battery systems. They also fit into our wet battery compartments.  We are watching our weight and two batteries will help us stay in line.  We don’t plan to live off-grid all of the time but to have the option to park without utilities when we find a beautiful serene spot.  We plan to add one more solar panel, but Minnesota is not the place to buy them.  Their summers are short and sunshine is limited even then.   It is not profitable for the dealers to carry the solar panels in stock. We will let you know how this works for us.  It gives us more options for finding campsites.

With what we have now, we are doing quite well being unplugged for a few days.  The sun shines some but often it is over-cast in Minnesota. We do use a small generator to charge up the batteries.  It doesn’t take but an hour or so because we haven’t had the batteries go down in charge very much and we installed a multi phase power converter/charger to our system.

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