Power from above.

OK, look out, technical post.
Putting these panels on the roof is no modest task.
They are very interesting panels, made by the now defunct Uni-Solar. They are flexible and adhesive backed, 18 feet long by 16 inches wide. They were designed to lay in standing seam metal roofing.
They're not particularly efficient but very robust with a long service life. The only way to get these panels today is to buy them from retailers who bought up big lots of them when Uni-Solar went under. Installing these panels is a bit bittersweet for me as my father absolutely loved the technology and the company. He would have loved to have had an opportunity to have some of these panels but his health failed so quickly he has no opportunity. In his last days I ordered the panels and discussed my plans for them with him, it was wonderful for him.
The first issue is that the panels are 18 feet long and the roof of the coach is only 14 feet long before the curved end caps. Now these panels are neat because they can be cut between the individual cells.
Then you can find the electrical connections in the cut ends, solder wires on and reconnect the severed piece. Neat yes, simple, well mostly. Thankfully others have led the way and done this before me and documented their technique on the web. As it always seems to be my experience was somewhat different and I did it slightly differently.

Cutting the panels were relatively straightforward, the panels are several layers of plastic with copper strips down the edges to carry the juice between the cells.. By cutting back the peel off film and exposing the butyl adhesive I was able to scrape it away and see the copper strips buried in the clear plastic. At first I began digging at the plastic to expose the copper as the others had done before me but I soon found it really difficult to do it neatly. I soon found that I could use my soldering iron to melt the plastic and cut a neat trough right down to the copper. This worked very well and very quickly. I was able to tin the exposed copper with solder very well. On one side there is a diode so you have to be careful, but on the whole it was pretty easy. Then it's simply a matter of soldering on wires long enough to connect the panels on the roof. There are a total of four connections to make so I used Rubber SJOW 4 conductor cable. Lovely stuff.
All this was the easy part.
Getting these panels on the roof, aligned properly and stuck down was a nightmare. Working alone made it nearly impossible to remove the protective backing and start the panels aligned properly. Somehow it all came together well and straight. No bloody fun though.

After wiring it all up and connecting to the batteries I was glad to see the exact same current I was getting before the surgery.
All in all a great project and I love that the panels lie flat against the roof, from the ground you can't even tell they're there.
Now I can finally cut up and burn the wooden staging I've been carting around since New Orleans!

The nation's capitol!

At the top of the Skyline Drive I ran out of national parks, well any parks at all really.
So cheap, read free, camping was going to be scarce as I pushed north. Some Googling provided an interesting option. Washington DC!
Amazingly there is a national park 12 miles north of DC. Greenbelt Park.
A fantastic spot and at $16 a night I promptly booked 8 days.
I'm to meet my client in New York in 10 days and need to finish up some programming for the latest project. So a week here fits the bill perfectly.
What wasn't so convenient was that I needed big power to run my big desktop computer and the batteries were pretty low. Running the generator was an option but everyone here is so damn quiet I hated to.
The obvious course of action was to bite the bullet and finally install my solar panels. But first I just laid them out on the ground and connected them up to get some power going.
With the panels pumping about 10 amps into the batteries I decided to let them do their work and run into DC for some sightseeing.
I've only been to Washington once before, I was 8, I remember seeing all the main sights and a great day at the Smithsonian Science Museum. I spend an hour or so cruising the National Mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol. There were so many people milling about it didn't really appeal to me to park and push through the crowds. I was drawn to the long rows of food trucks though, but I opted to get back to camp and to work.
On the way back I circled around to drive by the White House. Amazingly I had been able to drive right by the front steps of the Capital building but one cannot drive anywhere near the White house.

A day or two of earnest work got me itching for some fun, and I knew just where to find it. I have a few friends in DC and that night I went out on the town with Dave, we had a great meal in his up and coming urbane neighborhood, followed by some lively drinking.

Dave is a fellow Rover enthusiast and all around great guy, a few days later he and his lovely girlfriend visited me at the campground for some late night jam sessions.

Another Rover buff and new friend David met me for a pub night and then a fun morning informal car show. Dozens of fabulous cars all gather for a few hours and chat, a really great event. His Rover is a rare factory V8 called a Stage One, beautiful.

Back in the mountains

I was determined to drive the entire Blue Ridge Parkway so after Uwharrie I went back to the Parkway and carried on northward.
Thankfully the grades were never quite as steep as that memorable first day.
I was blessed with spectacular weather making the drive simply breathtaking. I took my time and spend several more days on the parkway spending the nights at look offs. Wonderful!

As it is so beautiful I tried various camera mounts to capture the vistas, On the mirror, on the roof of the coach, even on the side of the coach which wasn't very interesting.
I find it amazing that this road was ever built, it speaks to a time when great drives were of national interest. Back when even this great expense was justifiable. I can't imagine we will see projects like this in the future. Shame,...

The Blue Ridge Parkway ends and becomes the
Skyline Drive just west of Charlottesville Virginia and I climbed back up into the Shenandoah Mountains. More spectacular mountain scenery. On my last night in the mountains I finally got the banjo out and played a few old mountain tunes. As the sun set way off in the western hills I stumbled on the words as I finally met the significance of being high in the Virginia mountains.
Geordie just howled, as he always does when I play,....