Canada 23, 29th July 2003

It was cold and windy and misty in the morning. Same as last night. While the rest of the World - Europe and the US - seems to be sweltering I switched the central heating on while getting dressed.

I went to the maritime museum then headed to Aberdeen and visited the museum there. Both museums were OK. The sun came out in the afternoon and I managed to take my sweater off. I passed a sign giving the temperature as 64F. Of course it rains a lot round here, about 100 inches per year, I'm soon going to look at rain forests, there it rains an average of 144 inches per year. Luckily for me, that's mostly in the winter.

It was getting towards time to stop for the evening, all the side tracks seemed to have gates, and signs no trespassers, then I saw a sign "promised land recreational area". At the last second I decided to investigate. Luckily it turned out. It was a free picnic and camping area and was deserted. This is the view from close by my window. Lovely clear water, a sign tells me it is a salmon breeding lake.

I'm reading though brochures I have collected. It's real quick to pick up a brochure, but then you have to read them then file them or discard them. I've been getting behind.

I arrived at Lake Quinault. It's a temperate rain forest. I've been to the Amazon rain forest but I had no idea that rain forests existed so far from the equator. But it's a rain forest alright.

They've got big trees but you can't take photos of big trees. They are too big. You can't get far enough away to get a photo so you'll just have to take my word for it. There is a lake, of course.

I wandered round most of the short trails. Probably about 8 miles in total. (wow!). It was just green, everywhere. But very enjoyable strolls.

One of the things about a rain forest is that everything grows, everywhere. There is no room on the ground for many seeds to germinate so young trees will often start on top of other fallen trees.

North of the lake was one of the biggest Red Cedars in the world.

I headed north up the lake, found a neat spot off the road, had dinner and watched some ducks. Partly a group of 5, partly a group of about 30. They were all having fun in the river, suddenly taking off to chase each other. Then the big group got in line, and surfed off down the rapids.

Then a ranger called by and said, you can't park here, it's not allowed. Now, I didn't say, but I had read every single piece of paper you could find on the way up and there was nothing against overnight parking. I moved off to the National Forest and wrote a letter to the relevant senior ranger. Don't hold your breath while I wait for a reply.

I wasted the next day. I've been having problems charging my computer. Last night the charging gave up completely. Now I need to access the internet, not just to send you my journey reports - because you can always wait for that! - but it's the only way anyone can contact me. Now in all my travelling I have never received any important - really important - news via email but I don't want to be out of touch.

I retraced my steps 50 miles to Aberdeen. In Radio Shack I discovered new chargers were $120. That's approaching the cost of a new computer. I've had other minor problems with the old laptop for some time so I can think about a new one. The on/off switch doesn't work, although I have a workaround. The input socket on the computer for the charger has something like a loose wire and needs nudging to get it to work.

At Staples the special offer $550 was sold out so a bought a $700 Toshiba from Walmart. Nice computer, much better than my old one, but since I'm only using it for email it doesn't make a lot of difference. I might be able to run Age of Empires 3 on it, it wouldn't run on my old laptop, but since I never have time to play games and didn't bring the disk anyway it won't make a lot of difference. I couldn't find a shop selling used computers, a used laptop might have been OK.

But I still had problems charging the computer. It's one of those things, it sometimes works, it sometimes doesn't. I looked at new inverters. Walmart was out of stock of the bigger ones, Radio Shack had one $60 but I thought it didn't have enough output for my charger.

I stripped down the inverter unit, the box that coverts the 12v DC in the van to 110v AC to run my charger. It was cram full of dust. I cleaned that out and thought I had fixed the problem. Nope. I cleaned, as much as I could, the contacts in the plug sockets on the converter box. Didn't help, everything was still erratic. The output would sometimes read as 100 plus volts AC, as it should, but sometimes all sorts of other numbers. I didn't know if it was my test meter, the inverter, or some sort of short in my old charger that was doing it. I soldered back together all the wires I had cut to test, but there was no change. I'm doubtful about the plug on my old charger, it's one of those quick connect ones, it's hard to tell if it's actually making a connection.

One good thing I found, the charger on the new computer would charge the old computer. It is 19 volts output, like the old one, and the computer plug is the same, by chance. I had already tried to connect directly to the van's charging system but the best I could get there is 15.3 volts and it didn't work. I note here, I've been a trifle doubtful about the charging of the second battery in the van ever since the new alternator was installed, so here's another possible cause.

As I write, the charger is working. Well of course it is. Otherwise I wouldn't be writing, you'd have nothing to read, I'd be looking at maps and other stuff. But both computers are fully charged, so is my spare battery for the old computer. I haven't decided, if the problem is not to do with the old charger I may return the new computer. It has wireless incorporated but as far as I can see the wireless doesn't work. Whilst spending $700 is not going to wipe me out I can think of a couple of dozen things I would much rather do with $700.............

To change the subject, I have now driven the van 53,173 miles. How about that?

Best regards

David Barker
On the road in the USA

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