Limited Edition National Park Foundation Travato at entrance of Big Bend National Park

Our Parks Tour Grand Finale: Big Bend National Park 
Plus, a little solar test for our lithium-powered Parky van.
By: James & Stef Adinaro

Limited Edition National Park Foundation Travato at entrance of Big Bend National Park

Like all good things, our national parks tour and our time with Parky, the Limited Edition National Park Foundation Travato on loan to us, has come to an end. For the grand finale, we took Parky to Big Bend National Park. 

Touring Big Bend felt a little bittersweet since this was our last hurrah with Parky. Yet, what a perfect park for a grand finale! Big Bend blew us away.

Big Bend National Park was so much more than we imagined, so desolate and vast and packed with a diverse mixture of mountain, desert, and river scenery... we were absolutely enchanted. And oh, the night skies! Did you know Big Bend has the least amount of light pollution of any national park in the lower 48 states? Catch the sky on a clear night and you’ll see something like 2,000 sparkling stars with the naked eye. Witnessing that was magical. I’ll never forget it.

In the video below, you’ll get a glimpse of some of the spectacular scenery the park offers. But you’ll have to trust me here, what you see barely skims the surface. To really experience Big Bend, you’ll just have to go there yourselves.

Besides seeing the park, this video has a more primary purpose. We used our time in Big Bend to compare a day without solar power to a day with solar power to see just how much good solar really does at topping off Parky’s batteries while dry camping. Parky has a huge lithium battery system, so we’ve always thought that solar didn’t do much. We decided to do a little field experiment to confirm whether we’re right about that, and you’ll see that in the video.

What We Learned from Our Solar Experiment

While we were surprised to see we used the EXACT same 16% battery capacity during a day with solar and a day without, it very much confirmed what we’ve always believed. With a large lithium battery system like the one in Parky, the contribution from solar power wasn’t significant enough for us to measure or even notice. So, the takeaway here is this: for large lithium rigs, solar is nice, but shouldn’t be a make it or break it thing.

Goodbye Parks Tour!

James and I are both having a lot of mixed emotions about saying goodbye to Parky. It's weird how these rigs become almost personified in our feelings for them, isn't it? I suppose it has to do with how RVs are catalysts to adventures and the special memories they create... so we easily get attached to them as part of those fond memories.

Although our official tour is over, this certainly isn’t the end of visiting parks for James and me! We’ll be dusting off our own beloved Travato, “Lance.” And Lance, in all his screaming bright-yellow glory, will pick up taking us to new parks where Parky left off.

So, thanks for the memories, Parky, it's been quite a ride! May you bring just as amazing adventures to the lucky family that gets you next! In the meantime, may you enjoy being a big show-off on display at the Winnebago Visitor’s Center in Forest City, IA.

And finally, James and I would humbly like to say thanks to both the National Park Foundation and Winnebago for the opportunity to embark on this incredible tour over the past year. We love our parks so much, and we’re incredibly proud of Winnebago for its generous support of our national parks and their partnership with the National Park Foundation. It’s one of many ways we feel proud to say we drive a Winnebago.

Love, Stef (and James and Mel!) from TheFitRV


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