September 7, 2012

RV Virgins No More


The fifty giant Motor homes dwarfed our rented 25 foot RV at the park near Flagstaff. Some had TV's set up outside that are bigger than most of us have in our homes. Folding chairs, outdoor rugs, even potted plants said these folks had been here for awhile.

Yes, it is doggie bathroom
Everyone seemed to have a small dog or two. Maybe it is because this RV park has a pet washing station and leash-free doggie play area. Satellite dishes perch on picnic tables. Every fifth RV has an American flag attached to its front. The smell of cooking meat filled the mountain air as dusk approached. Betty finished heating our dinner just in time to set up at the picnic table right by our door and catch the sunset. We shared a small bottle of wine and toasted our first evening in a fiberglass box on wheels.

Finally our first RV trip is underway. After talking about it for years, we took the plunge. As is my custom I read several books ahead of time, watched a video or two, and talked with friends who have enjoying this lifestyle for years. I was encouraged by the experiences of fellow bloggers of urged me to go for it. The night before we left home I reviewed all the rules about dumping black water and not drinking from the fresh water tank (it is a rental, after all).

Rather than risking problems driving a motor home from Scottsdale up 6,000 feet to Flagstaff, I decided to drive our car up the mountain and pick up the unit there. This also meant we could park the RV and use the car to run errands or go to some hiking trails in the area during our stay.

I passed the first important test. Pulling into our assigned spot I didn't hit anything but was still close enough for all the various plugs and pipes I had to hook up. Betty and I decided we would use the RV park's showers and bathrooms most of the time. But, I still will want to practice draining the tanks and using the miniature shower occasionally. 

There are 2 outlets...is this the right one?

I plugged the power cable into the proper receptacle and felt a surge of satisfaction as the correct lights on the control panel glowed green. The sewer connections could wait until morning but I would figure out the process for black water, then grey water, and then flushing with fresh water.

Our first evening passed without incident. I did learn that RV refrigerators are not like ones we have at home. It uses a different principle to cool food: effective but slow. Along with our food we ended up buying a bag of ice to speed things along and have ice cubes for our drinks. The next morning I found the freezer was freezing and the main part of the refrigerator nicely cooled down. 

After a bit of experimentation Betty and I figured out how to hook up the privacy curtains that cover the front windshield. We found the switch for 2 small night lights that illuminated two step-downs that might have been dangerous in the middle of the night. After watching a movie on Netflix (solid WiFi at this park) and reading a bit, we called it a night.

Thursday morning began bright and sunny. The windows may have blackout curtains, but light still pours through the roof vents. Shortly before 6:00 AM we were wide awake. The unit was a little chilly and I wanted to test the furnace. It worked like a charm, heating everything up nicely in about 15 minutes. The hot water heater also did its job, almost too well. The water was close to scalding. Several hours later the water was still hot, even though I had turned off the heater after only 20 minutes.

As I type this we are about 24 hours into our RV experiment. I can report success. We will be at this park until next Tuesday. Then, it is off to another park in Show Low, about 140 miles away. We agreed we could easily stay where we are, but want the experience of packing things up, driving the vehicle on non freeway roads over a decent distance, and quickly setting up in a new location. Next Wednesday I hope to post about that experience and all about  our new "home" in the White Mountains.



Cruise America didn't pay for this trip..maybe they should have!

33 comments:

  1. Glad you are enjoying your experiment!

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    1. Thanks, Roberta. So far things are going well. Three days and still sane!

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  2. Great first post Bob. It is nice to know that the technical side of RVing is manageable. I look forward to future posts about such things as living day-to-day in an RV park and some of the social issues. How friendly is the RV society and such.

    Everyone who is thinking at least dreaming (that's me) of getting an RV should rent one first. Sometimes we love the idea of something but not the realities of it. But even before renting it is good to listen to how other cope. That is you my friend. You are my Guinea pig (ha)

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    1. There are lots of little things we are noting that will be part of future posts. Certain comfort items that you wouldn't think of until seeing other people's lifestyle in the park are making themselves obvious.

      We over packed clothing, that's one thing that is clear. Flagstaff has been warmer than forecast so my 2 pairs of shorts are getting a workout.

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  3. Excellent and bon voyage! We have never tried the RV adventure but it has always sounded intriguing. Our family from Switzerland (two adults and four kids age 15 to 25) came to the US and rented a 35 foot RV. They traveled the Western States for four weeks through Yosemite, Death Valley, Las Vegas, Sequoia National Park and up highway 1 along the California coast. Nothing but good things to say for their experience. Keep us posted and happy trails. :)

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    1. 6 people in a 35 foot trailer....wow! Betty and I have room but it is tight for two in a 25 foot cab over motor home. In theory this unit can hold 5, but I'd never try it. We have talked about a similar type of trip up the coast into Washington and the Olympic Rain Forest area.

      Since we are only 80 miles from the Grand Canyon we'll head up there in an hour or so.

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  4. Sounds like you're getting the hang of it. After a couple of colorful "dump station" adventures, you'll have some good stories to tell.

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    1. There is an electronic panel near the front door that tells us the condition of the grey and black water tanks. The actual hook up is very simple. At the moment the display shows a 2/3 full grey water tank, so it is time to go outside and pull the lever!

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    2. Feel’n what Mike is say’n here. Pulling the lever on your rig is one thing -- Murphy’s law occasionally applies. But, the “dump station” that has been designed, built, maintained, and (over) used by others …

      Another story. Just guessing Mike has a couple of ‘em. Oh, and an extra pair of waterproof shoes

      ..

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    3. I did buy a few pair of latex gloves and have two bottles of Germx. No waterproof shoes yet!

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  5. People of a certain age -- and RVs. Must be a ‘right of passage.’ Enjoy your time.

    We were inoculated earlier in life by many RV road trips with extended family. That is not the same as soul mates rolling through satisfying retirement in an RV … still, other forms of “recreation” now take up our disposable income and discretionary time

    ..

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    1. Why is it that the older the driver, the bigger the rig?

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  6. Glad to hear you are enjoying your latest adventure. I'll be interested to hear how the rest of your trip goes. I plan on renting one in October to see how I fit. Yours looks to be about the size I want to try out.

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    1. The 19 foot version would have been tight for us and I was worried about driving a 30 foot RV. But, after seeing how this 25 footer handles on the trip to and from Show Low early next week we may try the 30 footer next. We'd like to bring our cocker spaniel and the extra room may be important the next time we venture out.

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  7. I am reading this on day four of our current six day RV trip, wine glass in hand, Mission Bay, San Diego at my feet. Hopefully you two find this alternative lifestyle to be as much of a joy as Mike and I do.

    Looking forward to your next post . . .

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    1. Hi Tamara,

      I'll post something new next Wednesday. One favor I have to ask: could you email a list of the RV parks you have hit on your recent trips in your new trailer? We are thinking our next trip will be to California. You and Mike have found some beautiful sites with tremendous locations. We might want to make them part of our itinerary.

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    2. Yes, absolutely (responds Tamara not Mike :-). Can you confirm if you two are thinking S, Central or N. California, and coastal, inland or both?

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    3. Eventually all of California. But, for this first trip with the dog mostly from L.A. north to Monterey. We'd like to try both coastal and inland. I know from some of your previous blogs you know of a great spot in wine country near Ojai and I seem to remember another in Costa Mesa?

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  8. Hi Bob, this is Tamara on Mike's Google account since I'm "sharing" his laptop on our current RV trip down here in San Diego.

    One of the primary reasons we enjoy RV'ing so much is it allows us to enjoy priceless vistas that we could never afford if we had to rent a hotel to enjoy same. Here in San Diego our $80 a night site backs right up to Mission Bay, and our view of the bay and the city are gorgeous. $80 a night is very high by RV rental standards, but next to nothing compared to what a San Diego hotel room with the same view would cost.

    And RV'ing really isn't just for seniors, although seniors certainly have the most time to take their RV's out on the road. We came to RV'ing in our early 40's and have never looked back.

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    1. See my request above. The vistas you and Mike have found are spectacular.

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  9. You and Betty are true adventurers! I can barely maneuver my SUV into a parking place. I can't imagine getting an RV safely into its spot. Fun to read about your trip and also the RV experiences of your commenters.

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    1. Betty helped me manuveur into the space. I asked for a pull-through spot, one that doesn't have to be backed into. That made it a lot easier.

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  10. I can smell the pine trees through the post!
    Sounds like a good way to decide if this is the life for you.
    Love the commentary on how it is going!

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  11. Thanks for your blog Bob. I'm renting an RV for the first time in a couple weeks, it's an adventure with my son before he ships off to the Marines. Reading your post is helping me figure out things I need to consider. Looking forward to your next post on Wednesday!

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    1. Glad the info will help you and your son, Heidi. If you have any specific concerns or questions I haven't answered, feel free to e-mail me and I'll answer you directly.

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  12. Congratulations! You have conquered the hard part...fear! You are going to have so much fun. There is nothing like having your own cup of coffee waiting in the morning and going to bed on your own sheets. This bring back good memories.

    Have lots of fun...I will be watching.

    b

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    1. It is proving to be more satisfying than I imagined. Betty and I are already talking about another trip in February with our dog to see how she does. If things go well we will most likely buy an RV and start some serious tripping!

      I saw your blog post today about your recent restaurant adventures in Portland..remember them for next summer!

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    2. We will do a day of very old established restaurants in the downtown. There are others that are even better. I am making a mental list! In fact I find myself paying closer attention as we walk the street of the city.

      Oh, and as for the dog...yes do bring the dog along next time. You will make more friends because of the dog than you can imagine!

      b

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  13. In filling an RV’s fresh water tank, it would be better if you thoroughly drain the hose after each use to prevent the growth of algae. Coil the hose and screw the ends together to also prevent the water tank from being contaminated with dirt or insects during storage (eeek!).

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    1. Screwing the ends of the water hose together...I wouldn't have thought of that. Great idea. Thanks, Tia.

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  14. “I passed the first important test. Pulling into our assigned spot I didn't hit anything but was still close enough for all the various plugs and pipes I had to hook up.” Congratulations! It is indeed an achievement! :) Along with that, owning an RV should entail knowing how to maintain and solve its basic problems, such as checking and maintain its battery and tires.

    Rosalinda Rudloff

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    1. I agree. Though I will buy a bumper-to-bumper extended warranty to cover the biggies, I will teach myself the basics of disinfecting the water tank, keeping the black water tank from smelling, and how various hoses and fittings work.

      An RV is a series of maintenance issues on wheels that owners really need to know how to address.

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    2. Among those comments, Tia's comment would be the best. Always fill the tank with clean water from a clean and safe source to prevent water contamination which may develop a bad taste. If the chlorine odor is too strong, Bob, it'd be advisable to repeat the fresh water flush.

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