Happy Camper

We’re currently planning a long trip in our RV, and I figured it was probably time that I wrote about the first trip. I’ll backtrack just a bit first. Just over 6 months after my retirement, we brought our new RV, dubbed Homie Roam-o, home. The buying process and having minor things addressed by the dealer, prior to and after the purchase, has been daunting and frustrating. That could probably be a post on its own, but that’s not why I’m here.

The amount of information available for the purpose of just deciding on whether a trailer, sprinter van, or RV would suit your needs best can be overwhelming. Once you’ve decided on the manufacturer and chassis (if it’s an RV), you still have to outfit it with additional equipment for safety, comfort, and maintenance. Thankfully, we have friends and family who have been great resources. We also semi began this process a year ago. We asked ourselves a lot of questions about our travel and living style, and also our comfort in towing verses driving various rigs.

We chose a small C class size to start because it’s something I can drive comfortably, the living space is comfortable large enough for the two of us and Stevie Mix, and it came equipped with a lot of features that are considered upgrades. There are some great online articles that can help you think through what kind of rig will fit your lifestyle:

Andy did a huge amount of reading prior to the purchase; he made sure we had everything on the safety and maintenance side that we needed to get started. I was busy making lists and ordering things for the living quarters, and also figuring out how we would live, sleep, and eat while on the road. It definitely takes teamwork. I set aside some time today to make sure I have a good understanding of how all of the systems work, how to setup camp, and how to empty the grey and black tanks. I also watched some videos on our onboard power sources, and how to make sure you’re using those correctly.

Our first trip was to Rocky Gap State Park in Flintstone, Maryland. I cannot say enough positive things about this park. I think during normal times, this park is probably pretty busy. However, we arrived on a Tuesday (2 June) and left on a Friday (5 June), and it appeared that only camp loop A was occupied. We got a nice site near a water access point, which we didn’t end up needing except to hose off our rug when we were cleaning up (the pine trees were coating the area with pollen). The site had power, and was close to the restrooms and shower, which were very clean. I wasn’t once concerned about the cleanliness of this park. The lakefront beach and hiking trails were pristine and empty. We hiked 6 miles on Wednesday, and 5.5 miles on Thursday, and we only encountered people a couple times near the edge of the lake. Stevie was in heaven on the trails and exploring everything. At some point I faked her into thinking I was running into the lake, and she seemed to think this was a good idea, so she plunged right in and then sort of panicked. Andy and I were rolling laughing on the bank, but I don’t think she thought it was so funny. I wish I had gotten it all on camera.

We had a few hiccups on the ride up, which are now amusing in hindsight. The fridge door handle was broken, which we knew about on delivery of the RV, but the part was on order. I swear I asked at least three times if the fridge would pop open once loaded and we were on the move, and they assured me each time that it would not. Welp. They lied! I should have trusted my gut. As we were headed down the highway, Stevie started panicking and crying because it was loud and unfamiliar to her. This presented a problem because she was screeching into the back of Andy’s head, and driving a large vehicle down the road when it’s still new is stressful enough. So, I unbuckled myself (please don’t do this!) to untether her and hold her in the front passenger seat. Naturally, she scratched me up in her panic, which stressed me out. I was basically holding Scrat from the movie Ice Age on my lap. Once I got buckled in, she stopped vocalizing her displeasure, though she was shaking terribly. Then, the fridge door flew open! I looked back and food containers, eggs, beer, water, veggies, etc. were strewn all over the aisle. A can of shandy rolled down to me, and I considered popping the top. We had driven a mere 27 miles from home at this point, and we had to pull over. Thankfully, I used to live near where we were, and I knew a safe place we could stop. We got to a safe location off the highway, put everything back, and bungeed the door closed. Thankfully nothing exploded or broke. I think ONE egg slightly cracked—shout out to those old school egg storage containers meant for camping. Other than the fridge incident, I had thankfully done a good job securing everything else minus one tiny decorative sign I forgot to affix with a command strip.

About halfway to the park, we stopped at a fueling station that had diesel. We were able to park out of the way and sit at our dinette and enjoy the lunch I packed. After lunch, we looped back around to the pumps, and Andy topped off the gas tank for the first time. We were on our way! We were much more relaxed at this point, and the rig was doing well on performance at the increased elevation.

Checking into the state park, finding out site, parking and leveling the rig, and hooking up the power all went well. However, well had a bit of a SNAFU trying to hook up our gas grill to the LP quick connect on the back of the RV. We looked everywhere for a lever to turn on the gas when we couldn’t get it to ignite. Our camp host even tried. I actually pulled out the soft close drawer under the stove inside to see if there was something hidden in there, and then I couldn’t get the drawer back in. I was losing my patience. We had forgotten to meditate that day, and I was definitely turning into the Hulk from being hungry. After we ate and I headed off to the shower, Andy fixed the drawer before I got back.

Regarding the LP quick connect, we didn’t learn until we took Homie back to the dealer, that we were looking in the right place under the rig, but the lever is incredibly small, and we simply overlooked it. We ended up using our seasoned grilled (like a hibachi grill top) over an open fire. The camp host provided us with a bundle of wood for free, which was incredibly nice. We definitely didn’t starve, but we got a bit smoky, which is not my favorite thing. I know, I know… camping and fire rings. It’s whole thing. There will be smoke.

I’m still getting used to sleeping in the bed because it’s much firmer than I’m used to. By and large though, we had everything we needed, and it was nice to get away. Stevie made herself at home and was quite content once we were no longer moving. I think her only gripe is that there are no windows down at the floor level. I caught her standing on the dinette table a couple times, and she was swiftly reprimanded. She ended up making herself at home on the back of the couch. We started a little logbook. Andy journals about the trip, and then records information about gas mileage, on-board water, issues, things to remember or bring next time, and lessons learned. We’re looking forward to the next trip!

I hope you’re well and finding ways to get out and about! Until next time…


3 Comments on “Happy Camper

  1. Pingback: First Major Trip Report: The Mitten State and Beyond – Life After 38

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