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The Xantrex Syndrome

Before I dive in, I'd like to tell you that we are, at the time of writing this blog, at Chain O' Lakes State Park in Indiana. Yeah, it sounds pretty cool, and it's really quite a nice park made up of, as the name suggests, a chain of nine connected lakes. Although there are some 400 campsites, the sites are large and the services are well organized.

Our site at Chain O Lakes Campground.

But since nothing's perfect, I would dare you to go to the bathroom!

In 1996, one of my favorite films, Trainspotting, was released. An important scene in the film featured Scotland's worst "toilet" and Ewan McGregor diving into it to find his drug "fix".

The infamous Trainspotting toilet.

Well, I never thought I would find a toilet to "dethrone" the one in the film Trainspotting - judge for yourself:

The pit toilets near our camp site.

Inviting, isn't it? It smelled like sh**, enough to breathe through your mouth only. How can such a beautiful park have toilets like that. There are better ones in the park but not by much...obviously we use the motorhome toilet. A cleaning crew arrived this morning and they...blew the leaves off of the roof of the toilet and put on a powerful room deodorant that smells like an old woman’s perfume.

What about our Xantrex Syndrome? It's a disease that afflicts the whole family, but thanks to the good care of Dr. Rocheleau, we will be back on our feet in no time. Joking aside, Xantrex is our inverter/charger which decided, on the morning of July 18, just as we were ready to leave our site at Guilford Lake in Ohio, that it had had enough of working. Installed on April 23rd, and despite Xantrex's excellent reputation, ours simply died without warning....

So what do we do? Well, Xantrex will send us a new unit at their expense, as it's still under warranty, and after a lot of mumbo jumbo and discussion, the unit will be sent to an authorized dealer on our way to Indiana (don't imagine that it happened by itself, it took a lot of discussion to get there). The dealer has agreed to do the installation and we'll have to return the faulty unit to Xantrex, but by a nice coincidence the location of the dealer is also on our way, or nearly so.

An inverter/charger is essential in our RV as it manages our lithium batteries, so we're operating on campsite electricity and the generator for the time being. However, we'll soon have "dry camping" stops without service like at Mount Rushmore or Yellowstone, and the inverter/charger needs to be repaired as soon as possible. We are confident that this will not delay us and that we will continue our itinerary if everything goes according to plan with the repairs.

The Xantrex component is the white box you see in the back.

As for Dr Rocheleau, well, he's Dany, the VR specialist from Shelta, his company. Dany really is our savior. He installed our equipment, and it was the first time he'd seen an Xantrex fail so early. Even so, he was on the phone with me early on July 18 to try and sort things out, and he took the time to contact Xantrex and help us. We owe him a debt of gratitude, and knowing that we can turn to him during our trip is really reassuring.

The interesting part, namely my potential electrocution, came when Dany was coaching me on the phone to do a "reset" on the Xantrex and that this involved disconnecting the batteries from the inverter: Dany: "Reconnect the positive firmly and there could be an "electric arc" but don't worry even if it can be intimidating and put the connection back firmly in place" Patrick: "uh...ok..." But I did not suffer an electric shock...thankfully 😊

But as our adventure wouldn't be so rocky without a mysterious accident, we were well served on that score too. When we were only a few miles from Chain O' Lakes State Park, at around 6 p.m., suddenly a "black creature" emerged from the ditch and hit "Caravan Guard" on the front right-hand side. At the time, we didn't really realize what was happening. It was only when we reached the campsite that we discovered that the "creature" in question was not small. The bumper had come off its seat (I replaced it) and as the photo shows a good impact mark is clearly visible. Black and white hairs were visible on the peeling paint. It wasn't a person (phew!) but probably a dog (or a goblin, who knows), given the height of the impact.

The impact on the RV bumper.

Finally, we lost an attach on the bike rack and were lucky not to lose Christophe's bike!

We will for sure remember our stops in Ohio and Indiana, and keep our fingers crossed that Xantrex will be back up and running as soon as possible!

But what does Illinois have in store for us? We’ll see.

Here are a few observations of our trip so far, in no particular order:

  • Since our departure, all the sites we visited in the U.S. have not been fully booked, far from it, and even in July...Gettysburg was quiet, an effect of inflation or the possible recession?

  • The Canadian dollar is on the rise, and we're praying that it stays this way.

  • Diesel is really affordable, with prices ranging from 1.36 to 1.52 Canadian dollars after conversion.

  • The people in all the states we visited were friendly and welcoming.

On that note, we leave you with a nice photo of our "little ones" wading in a beautiful lake in Indiana this afternoon.

N.B. Did you know that Indiana has two time zones? The majority of the state is on Eastern Time, but two portions close to Illinois are on Central Time, so one hour less. Xantrex repairs involve navigating between two time zones - another great deal!

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