What constitutes a Newbie? Someone who is full timing less than one year? Two years? Five years? Meeting Cindi and Roger last week who like us, are starting out with minimal RV’ing experience reminded us of all the mistakes we made our first couple of years. Mistakes that most everyone has probably made over the years but definitely learning experiences. Our motto has always been to learn from our mistakes and never repeat them but more importantly learn from the mistakes of others and never make them yourselves.With almost three years under our belts now, we have had our share some of which I have confessed to and others up to today have kept to ourselves. Our first mistake and one that we continue see is that you should not trust your GPS 100% of the time, there are times it is just plain wrong. Within our first month on the road it led us down a gravel dead end road in California that resulted in some serious scratches on our brand new rig and our first melt down leaving one of us crying on the side of the road. Then there was the time we were passing through Chicago when the GPS guided us onto the express lane during rush hour. Not a place you want to be with a 40’ rig going 60mph. There have been other examples of when the GPS has tried to lead us astray but now our policy is….if it does not make sense, double check.
|Where to turn around......|
Pulling into a new campground can be intense no matter how long you have been on the road. Three things we have learned about pulling into a campground….1) Never pull in hungry. The anxiety level of most RV’ers is highest when pulling into a campground and finding a site. Barb and I have a pretty good system for pulling into a site but it can be intense and there is always a crowd who loves to watch the drama unfold should things go wrong. Pulling in hungry just adds to the stress and shortens the fuse to a meltdown. Now if it is even close to lunch or dinner we will pull over and eat before entering the campground. 2) Never pull in after dark. For obvious reasons this is not a good idea and we have never intentionally planned a trip where we pull in after dark. If we are driving somewhere until dark we will usually plan the nights stop for a Walmart or Cabela’s and plan a midmorning arrival to our destination campground. 3) Just because you can does not mean you should. Even when everything is going right you can get yourself into trouble. On more than one occasion we have been assigned a campsite the office said would be no problem to pull into. But maneuvering a 40’ rig within inches of a poorly placed rock or low hanging branch has caused more than one intense moment. In the beginning I would be stubborn and say, “I can get in there” and in each case we made it in. But just because you can does not mean you should….. we will now go back to the office and ask for a different site if we find it too tight.
|This is what happens when you try to squeeze in tight spots|
Some of our most disgusting incidents involved emptying the black tank. Being newbies we had never used a blueboy before. Did you know you have to open the vent before you take the cap off the hose when emptying the blueboy? Well, if you don’t, the resulting pressure creates a fountain of poo when you take the cap off and let me tell you, a fountain of poo is no good.Did you know that when you are filling the blueboy you have to watch it carefully and shut off the valve on the RV when the blueboy is close to full? Do you know what happens when you don’t? Your blueboy is full, the hose is full, the pipe on the rig is full with no place for it to go….result, more poo everywhere. No happy hours at our rig that week!
But by far the most disgusting incident involves the first time we used a macerator pump. There are three hose connections; an in, an out and one I later learned was the fresh water rinse. Let me tell you, if you hook them up wrong…..let’s just say you don’t want to ever do that because the result is…..you guessed it, a poo shower followed by undressing outside your rig and throwing all your clothes, shoes included right into the nearest dumpster (after showering (twice) and getting dressed).Our scariest incident occurred as we were driving west for the first time. We were just outside of Laramie Wyoming when we drove into a snowstorm that progressively got worse. To the point where we were in whiteout conditions and the rear end was slipping going up the Happy Jack Pass. Never again will we drive into a snowstorm again!
On one occasion our fridge stopped working. No problem we bought this really fancy extended warranty that covers “everything” so we make an appointment at an authorized dealer to get it fixed. Several hours later it was fixed and we were presented with a $90 invoice for a fuse. Needless to say the extended warranty does not cover blown fuses. To be fair, I did check the fuses in the rig but did not know there was an inline fuse behind a panel on the fridge. Lesson learned.One mistake that was narrowly missed but for the grace of Barb. We were at our daughter’s house and getting ready to leave. I got the rig ready to roll and told Barb she was good to go and I was going to take the jeep to the storage area where she was going to pick me up. ½ way there I realized that I did not put the dish down. Our 13’ clearance now became something closer to 17”. With no phone and no way to contact her I am panicking as I am passing under bridges that would clearly rip the roof wide open on our rig. I turn around somehow trying to think of how I was going to stop her. When I finally did see her coming down the road the dish was down! She said she saw it at the last second as she was getting into the truck. Whew!
These are just a few examples of mistakes we have made and in comparison to others we have seen or heard about they are minor in comparison. We have had friends forget to put in their awning and drive away or leaving the awning out in high wind both resulting in the awning being torn off. We know someone who ripped the roof off their rig due to low clearance and two people whose 5th wheels drop on their beds of their truck due to not being securely fastened and of course the dreaded putting gas into a diesel truck. I now touch the word diesel on the pump twice before starting the pump.
Looking back, most of these happened within our first year on the road. Does that mean we are getting older and wiser or just lucky?