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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just got back from the longest trip yet with our Outback: Atlanta to the Keys for 1600 miles round trip.

While camping is an important part of the trip, the journey was made to attend the annual Winter Star Party - a gathering of 600 amateur astronomers from around the country and several nations including Australia, Canada, Germany and Brazil.

It's pretty much a dry camping type event, but showers and flush toilets are available. I wanted to see how long I could survive using just the tankage on the 25FB and made it the entire week! This was taking a Navy shower every day and being conservative with water usage. Had a couple gallons of fresh left when I dumped the tank, the gray was showing almost full and the black was 3 bars on the gauge. Nice to know I can live in the trailer for a week.

Used a Honda EU2000 generator to power systems and keep the battery charged. Love the way the 2000 will run for 13 hours on a gallon of gas. Have a second genset, but it never got hot enough to hook them both up for the air conditioner. I solved my gas problem by picking up a cheapie siphon pump and, rather than carrying a 5 gallon tank of gas, just make sure the van tank is full and siphon gas into the generator. Ran the generator dry before packing it up for the trip home and there was no gas smell inside the van.

One of these days we'll need a new tow vehicle, but the 1996 Dodge Ram 2500 van did ok. Gas mileage was the pits at about 8 mpg (I was moving a bit faster than my normal 65 MPH where I can get 9 mpg), but the 5.2 liter and 3.55 gears didn't have any trouble keeping up with traffic and passing slower vehicles. Even with just the friction sway control, the back end of the Outback was rock steady even while being passed by tractor-trailers doing 80 MPH.

It was a lovely camping interlude in the middle of winter (not that winter in Atlanta is much to talk about), and we can't wait for our first local trip next month.

Hope everyone has a great season!
 

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Sounds like an excellent trip! Tell us about your destination a bit. I am interested in camping down in the KEYS. Did you go down to KEY WEST? See anything cool at the STAR PARTY?
 

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Hi ND,

No, I didn't get down to Key West. It's about 35 miles from where we were and after having been there a couple of times... it doesn't hold a lot of attraction.

The camp site is actually a Girl Scout Camp on West Summerland Key. West Summerland is a small island just before you get to Big Pine and a couple islands after Marathon and Seven Mile Bridge (the one shown at the end of "True Lies" if you saw the movie.) The next island up the chain is Bahia Honda and there is a state park there with camping. Further up the chain (up the chain being closer to Miami) is Long Key State Park. Both Bahia Honda and Long Key will give you camp sites just about on the ocean. Stayed at Long Key one time years ago and when you opened the back doors on the van, you could almost spit into the ocean!

The Keys are beautiful and well worth a trip. Because of the moderating effects of the ocean, they don't get as hot in the summer as central Florida, but man... those mosquitos! Lots of great places to eat and you are never more than a few yards from salt water.

Both Jupiter and Saturn are high in the sky and we spent a lot of time observing those planets. Saturn is just about the most beautiful thing in the sky! I've often shown it to first timers and they've actually walked to the front of the telescope just to make sure I didn't have a picture glued there! The big attraction to the Winter Star Party (other than the weather, of course) is that it's far enough south that some of the deep southern constellations like Carina, Crux, Centaurus and others can been seen. There some great stuff (galaxies, clusters...etc) in those constellations and we usually spend most of the nights pointing the scopes south. Did see one comet bright enough to be seen in binoculars and it may brighten to naked eye visibility over the next few months.
 

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Sounds like a great future trip for me!
I got to see a couple of those Southern Con's on my last trip to the Caribbean. It's fun to point night sky object's out to people who generally..."never look up!"
Many people wanted to see the Southern Cross, so we found a dark spot...and they saw it.

The final question on JEOPARDY last night was about a star in Orion's Belt, and only one person guessed it right!
 
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