Thu Sep 10 2020

We made it! After 8 days and 2,800 miles, we made it safely to New York. But now we're stuck in quarantine...!

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We knew when we arrived in New York that we would have to quarantine. New York state has some of the strictest travel restrictions in the country - and it's not surprising, given how badly the state was hit early on during the pandemic.

Coast to Coast in 8 Days

In just one week we've traveled almost 2,500 miles across 12 states on our way from Washington to New York - and we've hit a lot of firsts!

Coast to Coast in 8 Days

Specifically, New York requires individuals who have spent more than 24 hours in a state or area with significant community spread of the coronavirus to self-quarantine for 14 days. The list of states that this applies to is updated regularly, and the quarantine rules are strict - you can't go out for any purpose unless it's absolutely, 100% vital.

We've spent the last couple of months in Washington state, and since Washington was on that list, we knew we'd have to quarantine for 14 days. Actually, it would only be 12 days since our last couple of days of the drive were through Ohio and Pennsylvania, both of which were exempt from the quarantine requirements.

No biggie - spending 12 days in our RV while dry camping on our friends' land is no problem. We're used to spending 10-14 days in one spot without leaving to resupply.

As required, we filled out our Traveler Health Forms the morning before we arrived in New York - after traveling through 11 states, it took a while to do! The next day we get a call from the state to follow up on our form. They were very thorough - checking our medical history as well as ensuring we had no symptoms.

They also confirmed we had everything we needed to quarantine - from adequate food to disinfectant wipes. I wonder what would have happened if we said we didn't have enough groceries - free food maybe?! We had done a meal plan on Plan to Eat for 2 weeks, but I think we could stretch out the food in our RV to last 2 months if we had to! PS, if you haven't checked out Plan to Eat yet, be sure to do so - we love it!

It turns out that Washington had been removed from the list of states with community spread on the day we left! Good news, right?!

Not so fast. Unfortunately we had spent two nights (and hence more than 24 hours) in South Dakota on our drive down, and hence we still had to quarantine - the 14 days starting from when we left South Dakota. D'oh! If only we'd realized that, we could have avoided two nights in South Dakota and hence had no quarantine period on arrival here. Oops.

The end result is that we're quarantined in our RV until Sunday this week - just a few days left to go. Each day they send us a text message asking us if we've had any symptoms. While it might feel unnecessary, I've actually been quite impressed with the handling of the situation so far!

New York COVID Text Message
Diana and I both receive one of these messages at about 10am each morning. Only a few more days left now!

Once our quarantine is over, we're free to travel around most of New England - obviously subject to normal social distancing, mask requirements, etc.

New England Fall Colors

I say most of New England. Not quite all of it. Not Maine.

Most states with restrictions on travel are targeted at people who've recently spent time in states or areas with significant impact. Not so for Maine. Their restrictions are on residents of those states. In other words, residents of most New England states can freely enter Maine.

But while we'll have been in New York prior to a visit to Maine, we're residents of Texas. Despite the fact that we haven't been to Texas since before COVID-19 even existed in the US (we were last there in November 2019), their wording is specific.

Rather than spending another 14 days in quarantine in Maine, there is the option to take a COVID test within three days prior to arrival. As long as that comes back negative, no quarantine is required.

It just seems like a lot of hassle - we'd only be there a couple of weeks at most to follow the fall colors south.

We're still not completely decided on what to do, but our latest thinking is to focus on New Hampshire. It's closer to where we are now (a little south of Albany, NY) and would be less driving overall. We can start in northern New Hampshire in a couple of weeks and make our way south as the colors change.

Leave us a comment or drop us an email if you have recommendations for places we should visit in New Hampshire!

Solar in New England

Our friends' land is beautiful - thick forest with all sorts of wildlife roaming through. We've already seen squirrels, marmots, wild turkeys, and deer - and while we haven't seen black bears yet, they have those too. It's wonderful!

New York Wild Turkeys
While the wild turkeys are boldly strolling through now, apparently they'll be far more elusive once hunting season begins!

Do you know what thick forest isn't so wonderful for? Solar.

Our Perfect Off-Grid RV Solar System

Find out how we upgraded our RV with Lithium batteries, solar panels, an inverter and more so we could camp off-grid in comfort!

Our Perfect Off-Grid RV Solar System

The first spot we parked in was at the edge of their property, a few hundred feet from their house - a beautiful location with a small clearing on the edge of the woodland, near their septic leach field.

Unfortunately, the clearing was to the north of us, and tall trees stood just behind us to the south. Our portable panel was able to get direct sunlight for about three hours around lunchtime, but our 600W of rooftop panels struggled to provide more than 25W.

DIY Portable Solar Panel

A portable folding suitcase solar panel is one of the easiest ways to get started with solar, but they can be very expensive - so we built our own for half the price!

DIY Portable Solar Panel
RV Solar Shade
We couldn't park our RV on the leach field, but our portable panel could sit there and collect some rays - but it wasn't enough with our rooftop panels all shaded.

Not good. So after a couple of days we moved the trailer. Our new spot gets full sun from about 9am until 4pm - not a full day, but plenty for our needs. Plus, it's much closer to their house so we could run an extension cord if we really needed to. I think we'll be OK though - we hit 100% on our batteries yesterday.

RV Solar: Part 4 - Adding More Capacity

Sooner or later, you may find yourself wanting to add more capacity to your RV's solar system. For us it happened sooner, but not for the reason we expected!

RV Solar: Part 4 - Adding More Capacity

To help us out, we've also temporarily loaned our AeroGarden to our friends so it can run in their house and save us the power - it uses a little under 10% of our battery capacity each day, so that does make a big difference!

Diana has also been using a small 500W portable inverter that we bought so she could charge her laptop in the truck while we were driving (our truck's built-in 400W inverter isn't powerful enough to charge Diana's laptop!) since that uses less power than our big inverter.

Solar Panel Shade Chart
This is our solar production over three days. On the first day (left), we rarely saw more than 25W from our panels. On the second day (center), you can see where we relocated the RV around lunchtime. Then on the third day (right), you can see where the sun climbs above the trees around 9am and drops back again at about 4pm.

I thought I'd share this since I sometimes hear from new RVers who aren't sure how much of an impact shade has on their solar panels. I think this is a pretty clear cut example!

RV Solar: Part 1 - Introduction & Goals

Installing solar panels on your RV is essential for boondocking off-grid. We've learned so much in the last year!

RV Solar: Part 1 - Introduction & Goals

As you might have guessed, this also means we don't plan on doing much dry camping out here this winter. Not only are there fewer boondocking spots out here than we're used to out west, but we're also planning to spend more time in forested areas. Add in the often-cloudy New England weather and increased power needs given the colder temperatures and we'll be looking for full-hookup RV parks - not something we have much experience with!

If you can recommend any RV parks in New Hampshire or Vermont that will be open during the winter (most seem to close in early October), we'd love to hear from you - again, please leave a comment or drop us an email!

That's all for this week!

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