What better way to learn about one’s motorhome than to take off on a short weekend trip. I took the advice of the many books I read and chose a state park not too far away from home. What started out as a good plan became my first learning experience.
My trial run plan consisted of driving the RV to my home on Friday to fill the water tank as there would be none at the state park. I would spend Friday afternoon/evening getting the RV set up and ready to go Saturday morning. But then I got eager and wanted to spend two nights instead of one. I looked online and realized that the state park had only 2 walk-in sites left. But this did not deter me from heading off a day early. I found a KOA that was nearby. A quick phone call confirmed that they still had space available. I called my wife and explained the plan. She was okay with it. Perhaps I could leave early and she would head down after her workday ended.
I rushed about, putting the needed items into the motorhome. Empty drawers and cabinets became the temporary holding spots. I wasn’t really thinking about organizing at that point in time. I was still loading items when Gayle came home. It was then she asked where I had gotten a site for the night. I realized I hadn’t actually reserved a spot at the KOA. Quickly I called them back. Lucky for me there was one spot left open, which I reserved and told them we would be there around 9 pm.
We had a quick fast food meal before heading out. On the road, the drive wasn’t too bad. I quickly learned that every passing semi tended to push me towards the shoulder as it started to pass. As the 86 mile drive proceeded I began to feel more at ease driving.
Aria, my dog, was a bit less confident. This was her first ride in the motorhome. In the car she usually she sits in the back seat of the car and relaxes. I purchased a seatbelt strap to attach her to the couch seatbelt, which she did not like. Aria decided it was best to sit behind my seat for the trip. Later on the way home, she was much more comfortable sitting at Gayle’s feet — not strapped to the couch.
We arrived to the KOA in dark. I believe I was doing every thing that all the books and YouTube videos advised against. But I was eager. We were guided to our spot, hooked up the electric, put down the leveling jacks, slid out the walls and took Aria for a walk. At this point I was exhausted. We made the bed and went to sleep.
Morning came and it was chilly. I turned on some heat with a bit of trial and error. The manuals that come with the RV are confusing and a bit cryptic. The manual presented multiple heat pump units. I wasn’t sure which one I had. I learned quickly that we had no hot water. I flipped on the electric switch to the hot water heater and waited. No hot water came out of the faucets. I tried the gas setting. Try as I could, I could not figure out how to get the hot water heater to produce hot water. I ended up calling Jim, my salesman. He verified that everything I did should start the water heater. I decided to look at the water connections to the water heater. I know there are bypass valves for winterization. Both valves appeared in the proper position. However, there was a valve connecting the hot & cold, which was open. I think this just let the cold water bypass the water heater. I closed the valve and soon had hot water. A success like this really helped to boost my confidence.
We left the KOA, heading to the state park. We arrived early, decided to go to the visitor center and hike a trail while we waited. I looked on Google Maps at the satellite view. It looked like there was plenty of space to park in the lot. Pulling my 31 foot monster into the lot packed full of cars I realized was a mistake. It dawned on me that everybody else thought it would be a great weekend to be at the state park too. The Google Map satellite picture was probably taken off season. Slowly I crept along, cringing when the aisle got narrow — worried that I would scrape along the back side of somebody’s car or truck. We steered towards the boat ramp, and were lucky to find a pullout that we could park in. I made a mental note to avoid this scenario in the future.
Getting to our campsite was uneventful. Backing into it was a success with Gayle’s guidance. We hooked up the electricity, put down the leveling jacks and extended the slides. The site was mostly mud, so we did not put out chairs nor have a fire. We were tired from hiking and decided to try and get the TV / antenna working. The signals were not great, so our viewing was limited. In my rush to pack I also forgot the connection to hook my iPad to the TV to watch a movie. Tired and no TV to watch; we started dinner. Guess what: I forgot some of the ingredients needed for the recipe we planned. Gayle improvised and we had a tasty meal.
The next morning, we took Aria for a walk around the campground, looking at other sites. On our return, our neighbor pointed out that the rear jacks were not all the way down. I had not thought to check them after I leveled the RV. I made a mental note to check this in the future.
Upon leaving the campground, it was time to empty the black and gray tanks. I was dreading this; well dreading making some terrible mistake. But all went well, and it was actually much easier than I expected.
The trail run was a success. I learned a few things and we still enjoyed the weekend.
- Stick to the Plan
- Don’t Rush
- Check the Jacks