Who needs electric and water hookups!? This weekend, we're putting the new trailer to the off-grid test at Lake Norman State Park in North Carolina.
Lake Norman is one of our neighborhood lakes—and probably the most popular in the area. It's just a quick drive north of our house. It's huge, so depending on which part of the lake we're going to, we can get there in about 30 minutes. This particular state park was on a farther side of the lake, about an hour from the house. Considering our usual travels, this was going to be a quick and easy voyage.
What made us extra excited about this trip is that the site we got didn't have any electric or water hookups for the trailer. We used to dry camp somewhat often in the old Coleman, but we haven't had a chance to test how the new trailer works off the grid. This was gonna be the test.
The major difference between this trailer and our Coleman was the fridge. The Coleman's fridge could run on propane. When we didn't have electricity, we could just kick the propane on and have nice cold food storage without wasting battery power. The Sunset Trail, however, has an all-electric fridge. We were curious to see how long it could last on the trailer's battery. So, we packed up our stuff, filled the freshwater tank (which is much bigger than the Coleman's), and headed to the lake.
But first, we had to put on our fancy new shirts!
We left the house after work on Friday and made the short drive to the park. When we got to the front entrance, our GPS said we'd arrive to our destination in three miles... but we were at the entrance. As it turns out, this park was huuuuuge. We literally drove for almost ten minutes through the woods before making it to our site.
On our voyage through the woods, we did notice all the trails crossing the road and the massive visitors center with a crammed-packed parking lot.
When we told people we were going to Lake Norman State Park, the first thing everyone said was, "bring your bikes." Okay, so we figured they had a few mountain bike trails. Well... a "few" was quite the understatement.
Apparently, they have 30.5 miles of bike trails scattered throughout the park—and that doesn't even count the dedicated hiking trails! As you might have guessed, this was a very popular park for mountain bikers.
As the easily-winded bikers we are, this map was quite intimidating. We decided to try out the shorter 3.2 mile part of the Lake Shore Trail around the campsite. But first, we had to drink some "sodas," eat some dinner, and finish out our first night in the park.
So far, the fridge and the trailer were working perfectly, even without electrical hookups. Of course, we also brought the generator, just in case.
The next morning, we woke up bright and early (after silencing our alarms and laying in bed for a couple extra hours). We didn't have electricity for our Keurig (#camping), so we had to make coffee the old-fashioned way. We heated up water in a kettle using the propane stove, poured it over coffee grounds, and filtered it out.
After taking one sip each, we hopped in the truck to go to the nearest Dunkin'. Apparently, you can add "too many" grounds, which basically turns the coffee into a sludge-like substance that's not entirely drinkable. Who knew?
Now that we were "Running on Dunkin'" we were ready to hit the trails. Rose made this awesome video to commemorate the day!
The trail was nice. It had a few hills and followed the lake shoreline. We could see all the massive homes we could never afford on the other side of the lake. All we could do is sweat, breathe heavily, and dream.
When we got to the short-turn trail, which would cut the 6-mile trail in half and take us back to the campground, we discussed our plans for the rest of the day. Originally, we wanted to do a quick 3-mile hike and then test out some of the bike trails. Seeing how busy the visitors center was yesterday and taking stock of our energy reserves, we decided to finish the whole 6-mile hiking loop and forego the biking. We probably wouldn't have made it very far on the bikes anyway!
Once we finished the whole loop, we decided to take a little drive to the visitors center to see what goodies they had. It essentially confirmed that we made the right choice to skip bike day. It was absolutely packed!
There were bikes as far as the eye could see. Every parking lot was full, even the overflows. We checked out the visitors center, picked up some firewood, and got out of Dodge, back to the safety (and quiet) of our trailer.
The trailer battery did die about this time, but we were pretty happy with its almost-24 hour survival time. We pulled out the generator and gave it a quick charge before we finished out the night with some "sodas" and a fire.
Even though we didn't get to use the bikes or the canoe (maybe next time), we definitely enjoyed our trip to Lake Norman. Until next time!
PS - Stay tuned for some BIG news about our future travels. There might be much, much more to come....
He likes pizza.