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RVing message boards => Trip reports, journals, logs => Topic started by: camperAL on April 01, 2017, 01:20:47 PM

Title: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: camperAL on April 01, 2017, 01:20:47 PM
Greetings Everyone (who is interested),

Part 1.

Decided to break this down so it isn't so long. Will try to be brief and pack things in. Perhaps will help others in my shoes. I always appreciate comments.

My wife and I just finished our first major trip in our Coachmen. While we certainly had great time for the most part, we also ran into some problems that are probably common with new owners of an RV. We towed our Kia Soul 6 speed and used a Break Buddy for enhanced stopping. I did gain many useful insights by doing my research on the RV Forum, and believed this helped us to prevent problems. Our destination was Sebring, FL., then we headed to a New Mexico Location so I could conduct some astronomy.

We started out from Indiana and headed to Florida to visit an aunt. Took 3 days to get most of the way down. First day we drove a bit further than average for us to get further south (450 miles). After that we tried to keep it at 350 average per day. Same with the rest of the trip and 350 miles is about right for one day. I plot out a route on the internet and figure an area to stay, then do some looking on RV Park Reviews to secure a good campground. We were able to find pull through campsites so didn't have to unhook or back in.

We experienced uncomfortable cold in the front of the RV when first taking off from our home and 3/4's the way down into Tennessee. The front heater was not really blowing any warm air out. Our first stop we made in a little over 2 hours, we turned on the furnace to keep things a bit warmer. The doghouse in front was leaking cold air in. I later replaced the seal in an attempt to make things better for travel on the way home. We also used the generator to power our small plug in heaters and placed those up front to put some heat mainly where our feet were. We only ran the genny when we needed the heaters to run while traveling.

One nice item that I noticed is, truckers are pretty helpful courtesy wise for RV's. When pulling out into interstate traffic they would often move over to help you out. I reciprocated and would move over for them when they were coming out or move over if they were on the side of the road. I tend to do this in our van also but it does take more to do in a class A with a toad. Took me a while to get the hang of keeping the motorhome centered between the lines, but as you drive and gain experience you get a feel for it. Also used the rear view mirrors to keep an eye out for cars hiding on my side but found the back up camera really helpful in both keeping an eye out on our tow car and people behind me, on my passenger side, and coming out onto the road.
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: camperAL on April 01, 2017, 02:19:42 PM
Part 2.

The last part of traveling to Sebring wasn't too bad but after getting off the interstate, the state routes are much slower with a lot more traffic and stop and go from traffic lights. We fell short of our destination because of the slow traffic and it was getting just a bit late so we found an unscheduled RV park to stay at. We tried to get stopped at about 4 p.m. each day. I didn't really want to drive in the dark. Next day we pulled into the campground of choice and I was able to get a campground spot for a week. Campgrounds fill up fast in winter time and there were many snowbirds camped. We were only about 8 miles away from my aunt, close to many of the conveniences like grocery, restaurants and so forth. I didn't have a dog bone to convert from 50 amp to 30 amp so a trip to the Wal-mart solved that problem first day of our stay.

While traveling down our first stop was in southern Tennessee, second stop was in the pan handle of Florida, third stop was a campground we found just by luck on the side of the road about an hour and a half from where we wanted to stay in Sebring.
When we make a stop, I would only hook up to the electric in order to run our items in the motorhome, like microwave, heaters, and TV. I developed a pattern of only hooking other connections up like the dump hoses and water as we needed them. As long as we had electric, we could go as long as 12 days on the other three (water fill and gray/black tanks) I did make it a practice to dump before we took off after hearing of problems with weighted tanks on the road. I don't know how other campers set up but figured I would do things as needed. Seemed like a good way to go about things. After I would hook up dump hoses and water, I'd leave the dump hoses connected until ready to leave but would fill our water tank and just use out of the tank until we need to fill it again. We also only started the water heater when we wanted to use that. I assume it is standard practice with campers.

While we had camped at some Indiana State Parks and gained insight to dumping our tanks and so forth, I still kept a close eye each time when doing those tasks. I had purchased a Rhino Hose but kept the older hose that had been connected to the black tank. Fixed things up with a bannet mount for quick on and off. The older hose runs into a black PVC pipe to the outside which swivels in the direction you need it to. I think due to age of that hose, it later split just a bit and allowed some seepage which I noticed immediately as it was right by me. I shut things down and the next day bought more hose at Wal-Mart and connected that up to prevent the problem again. I have bleach handy and cleaned up the area which was very small (a cup at most) and then sprayed it down. Could have been much worse. This happened at a dump station but no one else waiting to use it and we were killing time before going on to the next campground. Things dried up and then we left.

I can't stress the importance of this next item. I purchased a Progressive Industry surge protector. I plug it into the black cord going to the motorhome, then use my extension cord (which is appropriate gauge) to plug into the power from the campground. While I had no problem going down to Florida or as I headed to New Mexico, later on at a campground we stayed at for a longer length of time, the Progressive unit kicked off the power three or four times. We noticed we had to reset the microwave clock when coming home one day as we had been out for the day. This happen another time as well. Then several times while at the motorhome things went black. So unless you like the hassle of fixing the electronics in your unit, having some sort of surge/spike/low voltage protector is essential. Only our first trip and this happened at campground with about 400 units.
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: camperAL on April 01, 2017, 03:07:02 PM
Part 3

One of the items that my wife and I noticed that is different while traveling in a motorhome, we use to easily stop at a McDonald's or Waffle House when in route. Due to the difficulty (for us) in location stops, usually away from fast food places, we ate more often in the motorhome. Now that isn't a bad thing but we did miss those on the road places to stop for a quick breakfast. Eating in your home on wheels keeps the costs down and extends your budget. I think we only ate out four times in 30 days and ate at the motorhome the rest of the time. We had bought groceries at Aldi's in Florida for the next leg of our trip. We ate out more often the second part of the trip. We also were able to go to McDonald's and Waffle Houses easier the second half of the trip, sometimes bring the McDonald's breakfast to the motorhome by driving there with the car.

For those unfamiliar with Aldi's, it is a no frills grocery store, where you bag up your own groceries. You usually pay about 60% of what a name brand grocery store costs. We like the quality (and I am fussy about that) with the exception of a few items. They also have a good selection of adult beverages. I don't always like the produce section but seems to be improving with time. You can buy four or five bags of groceries and would be hard to spend much more than $20 per bag. If you buy meat and processed foods then your food bill might be higher. Most of these stores are located the eastern to midwest part of the USA. (disclaimer, I have no affiliation with these stores, I just like them a lot)  ;D

Campground costs on the road were averaging about $30 per night and that was with some discounts from FMCA and Good Sam. I think the highest I paid for a single night was $45 and the lowest was $12 with a FMCA discount. The weekly cost of one campground we stayed at was $135 plus electric. We stayed one place for a month and the cost there was $613 plus paid $68 for electric. That is under $25 per day. The big shock was having someone deliver LP to us at that campground and spent $64 dollars where it had only cost me $16 to fill up at home and stopped at another location and they filled for about $24. I had been informed of the high cost of some places. It is certainly better than having to unhook drive out in traffic, fill up, drive back and re-hook things back up to continue your stay. If you can, get LP before you pull in to a campground where you will stay for a time. I figure for the time spent of moving the rig, it was reasonable to pay that one time.

During the time we were traveling, we managed to spend only $14.05 per day food wise for the both of us. This included eating out a number of times (about 1/3 of the total time on the road) and the rest in the motorhome. We cooked out on the grill a several times. While we don't eat real frugal, we watch costs as close as we could but we ate well. Crock Pot meals, steak and chicken, salads, sandwiches, some camp food, and some deli items to compliment meals. We found a pizza place with excellent pizza that had 50% off on Mondays. They also had great micro brew they made at that location. Campground costs averaged $24.54 including costs on the road and fuel average $11.05 per day. Certainly cheaper than a cheap motel and the accommodations are first class for us. These costs are close but I am sure I missed a few bills that might raise the cost just a bit. I know we had plenty of food for about a week after getting home.
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: camperAL on April 01, 2017, 05:20:57 PM
Part 4

Fueling up at gas stations wasn't too bad but it is important to scope out a place before Turning into the station. Clearance, being able to get out of the station is all important. Pilot and Flying J gas station are usually good places to fuel plus TA (truck stop) have a variety of electronics and tow gear that can assist you if you run into a problem on the road. We estimate we were getting around 7.5 miles per gallon with the tow vehicle and cost of fuel as said above was $11.05 per day. Consider what you are taking with you (home, gadgets, food, and you, I consider that cost a reasonable price to pay. If you stay longer somewhere you can nudge that price down on the average. When fueling up a number of stations put limits on how much you can spend at a fill up. One place in Texas we filled up let us go over $140 worth. The rig felt heavy with having a full tank. Pacing yourself and filling up once a day, you can keep the tank fairly full without having to worry about running out. I also purchased a couple of plastic gas cans so just in case we were running dangerously low we could drive the tow to a place to get fuel and keep from getting towed somewhere.

At one place in New Mexico (Hatch) I had pulled in to a station and behind a family who were obviously not in any hurry to let anyone else in. I waited over 20 minutes after they filled their tank and there still was no sign of them moving. We pulled back out and went down the road. I estimated how much fuel I had in the tank and when the next city was coming up so I could fuel again. I was much lower than I wanted the tank to be. Not sure how long you can get away when the warning light comes on. Also when my warning light came on the coach, the area where the milage is located said "Warning Low Fuel" We made it to the next city and put in fuel with a card, they limited an $85 fill. I then went in and gave them $50 in cash in order to top the fuel off a bit more. I was upset with the individuals who could have pulled away from pump, rather than doing all kinds of adjustments to their van, moving and pulling things out, going into the store to shop and so forth, and made that day a bit more stressful for me by their inconsiderate actions.

During the time we were gone, I only had to unhook the toad one time when I pulled in to an RV center. Signs weren't clear and as soon as I got in a bit i knew I was in trouble. It wasn't in a busy area so I was most fortunate and took my time to turn things around. Probably a good thing to happen to you so you have some idea the trouble it can be in order to get things turned around again. I estimate it took about 20 minutes from time of mistake to time I pulled away. If a tow car isn't perfectly straight, it can be hard to pull out pins and so forth. At one place we stayed for a week, I had my Break Buddy 12 volt plug fall apart on me. Again probably age of component. I looked everywhere and could not find all of the hardware that went to the plug. Probably under the seat somewhere. So went to a TA center and bought a heavy duty enough plug in to handle the heavier gauge plug from the Break Buddy unit. You can't use the smaller gauge wire plugs, plus there is a fuse on the new one I wired in. Now that I am home will have to solder the wires so they don't come loose from travel.
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: camperAL on April 01, 2017, 07:29:26 PM
Part 5

One item that I bought on the road was a small air compressor to fill tires and airbags on the rig. I didn't get the cheapest one I could find but didn't buy an expensive one either. I had a 12 volt unit the previous owner had left in the rig but I had not tried that out which was a mistake. Upon seeing the 12 volt compressor didn't work, decided to go shopping the next day. Found one at a Wal-Mart. I already had a good tire gauge and used that to check tires and compared to the compressor gauge in hopes of getting accurate pressure. When I bought the Coach, I was unaware it came with air bags. I had drove around in the coach, traveling home from place of purchase, had went to local state parks unaware of this which is a bit embarrassing to me. I am hoping I haven't over looked other important things. I had talked with forum members about the discovery of the airbags and had filled them up to see if they were damage or not. I was able to fill them and they seem to hold air.

I'm somewhat sure that I had tire pressure accurate. I base this on Cooper Tire tables that I have used. We weighed items as they went in the coach and tried to carefully balance out the coach. I didn't weigh he coach but really should have. At no time did the coach seem to be unbalanced or hard to drive. I also noticed it seem to ride better with the airbags inflated however. I ended up with about 45 lbs of pressure in them. Tires I put in 85 on the duels and 82 on the front. I want to go over this again to make sure I am accurate. I had to take off the hubcap screws to be able to fill the tires in front. Duels were easy to check and fill

Since this was a new to us motorhome we spent some days just enjoying our rig. We had a few rainy days we just spent inside reading, watching TV and playing some DVD movies. We also like to cook and prepared a more substantial meal that we wouldn't have fixed on a day we were going somewhere and seeing the sites. I use a Verizon MIFI for internet connection and that seem to work no matter where we were at. We also use a pay as you go phone and those worked most of the time. We were out in the middle of nowhere for a while so I could do some star gazing. At that location we got no signals on the phones but I was able to email with family during that time. I was able to drive a few miles down the road and was able to call in some items that I needed to with regards to bills. I also took copies of my bills (I don't do things over the internet bill wise) and I could easily mail those in when they were due. We had my son mail items to us when we were parked for the month.

We also try to exercise at least four or five days out of the week while traveling. We usually walk about 3 to 4 miles each day. Heck climbing in and out of the motor home was good exercise as well. We walked the perimeter of one camp ground with beautiful mountains in the back ground. While we were camped near a city we found a mall and walked the mall (only problem with this is wanting to stop and look at all of the things for sale). Just keeping busy and going places and exploring, offer extra expenditures of energy. Being careful to not over do the good food in places you are at are helpful as far as keeping fit and I don't know about you but that is hard for me. Seems to me that restaurants over serve quantity of food to you. We would tend to eat half or a bit more then take leftovers for later.
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: Roadhappy on April 01, 2017, 09:22:56 PM
It sounds like you had a really good trip.  Hope the next one is even better.  Love the open road!!

Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: camperAL on April 01, 2017, 11:52:59 PM
Hi Robin,

Thanks for taking the time to share our experience! I enjoy reading other trip reports as well. We did have an excellent time but was also the first big go around and there is an element of worry or anxiety as you are doing things. I am sure as time goes on we'll be more confidant and relaxed at doing things. The first big step is to simply go and make note of things. Seem like the time zipped past really fast. We did get plenty of practice in with the RV. My wife takes care of things inside and I do the other items on the outside. We did have some drawers pop open but we got that under control as well as other simple problems you can run into. We also didn't have any major breakdowns on the older vehicle so I feel we chose wise.
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: camperAL on April 01, 2017, 11:58:19 PM
Part 6

Having spent a lot of time in motels over the years, there is a good satisfaction in being in your own home on wheels. One comment my wife made was not having to unload the van each time and take our items inside. Everything is in place in your motor home. The sign says it all above the doors at motels, not responsible for theft or damage to vehicles. Go out for the night and we always took anything of real value with us because I have had the motel management sell the same room I was in again. I came back to the motel with people in our motel room one time after we went to get something to eat. Last year we also were treated to a defective smoke detector that went off during the night even though I had complained it was not working proper to the front office. They made the mistake of asking me how our stay was the next morning and I told them. As we drove by the motel this year I noticed it had a different name brand and was no longer the we'll leave the light on for you.

I use to stay at a motel chain that leaves the light on for people. Based on what they charge now, I don't know how they can make any money (and a number of their units seem to show this) if you figure out the value of money in the 1970's when they charged $19.95 and now when they seem to average $45. There is a lot of inflation from that time. A number of these motels have been closed down and I noticed that from a year ago when we were traveling by van in the same areas heading back home. We also really missed all of the loud noise, slamming doors, people talking and laughing at all times of night on the way to their room without regards to others sleeping at night.  >:(  We stayed for 21 days at one of these motels last year and were next to the management next door. I was awaken no less than four, five times by management talking way above a modest voice and slamming their door closed. Complaining about this sort of behavior seems to fall on deaf ears.

I don't remember being awaken even one time in our motor home while we were stopped at a campground while we traveled. Motor homes are not well insulated but we still never experienced the kind of problems we did in motels. First I think that the quality of people in RV's are a much higher caliber. I know for the most part that people who RV are like minded and try to be respectful of their fellow campers. Perhaps we are older and still have the good values our parents taught us for the most part. I have read problems here that are just the opposite but I think those are really the exception. Both my wife and I really appreciated the nicer setting. We also always felt things were relatively safe. At no time did we feel any danger and I tend to scope out an area and try to get a feel if there is any problems or danger present. I still always take precautions in an effort to keep things from happening. I'd say the safest motel I was in last year wasn't as safe as the least safe campground we were in this year.

One of the fondest moments we had and remember during this trip, I take a short cut/by pass around Albuquerque, NM. We were wanting to make a stop to eat and was just after we had filled up with gas after about running out. Along a state route was a place on the left with a historical marker. We pulled off and fixed our lunch. Looking out of the motor home we could see the rugged terrain, beautiful dark blue sky, horses in a pasture, a car or truck passing by ever so often, and peaceful silence and we were the only ones there the whole time. Almost hard to get started again due to the settling but we had to make our campground before it got too late. It is this kind of adventure and setting that makes being in an RV a hard to compare experience in a car or van.
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: jackiemac on April 02, 2017, 01:56:53 AM
Thanks for sharing your experience! It's a wonderful life.  ;D
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: RedandSilver on April 02, 2017, 03:10:37 PM
Thanks for posting your experiences.

A few questions if you don't mind.

Your First Major Trip - How long have you owned this MH?  Is it your first MH?

I didn't see a date range for this trip.  When did you start it and when did you get back home?

You gave some costs for Fuel and campgrounds etc.  Do have have a TOTAL cost start to finish for this trip?

How much of the trip was pre-planned vs. just going with the flow?

Did you use any Rv'ing type books for your travels - like Next Exit or Big Rigs etc?

Did you need any extensions for any connections either electric or water or sewer?

What did you take with you that you never touched?  And what will you make sure you bring next time?

And one last one.  How much did you use a CC vs. Cash throughout the trip?

Thanks again for posting.  I will be going on some trips this summer for a few weeks at a time so this is a big help.

Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: camperAL on April 03, 2017, 01:00:48 AM
Hi RedandSilver,

No, don't mind questions at all.

We just bought the MH last June/July. It is the first MH that my wife and I have own. However my Parents were RV'ers and traveled in the 70's and 80's. We traveled several places with them and my Dad showed me the ropes on a number of things. We also rented out a class C when we thought that was the route we wanted to go. I can say that I am very happy we bought a longer unit with a slide as it makes staying in them for a longer time much more pleasant. Before that I did tent camping and that included doing that about 15 months ago. We also rented a fifth wheel and stayed in that last year for a month.

We were gone for about a month and a half and just returned home.

Cost wise, the only other costs would be our motor home and food. I estimate our MH costs us $10.00 per day regardless if we use it or not. That is based on what we paid for it, how long we hope to travel in it and possible selling it for just a small amount of $$.
We ate out about 1/3 of the time and the rest of the time had food from groceries (I listed those places). Figured cost of eating was $14.05 per day. Total cost for everything was $58.38 per day for the two of us. I tend to look at it this way. You have to eat if you are on the road or just sitting at home. I don't really consider food a cost of travel, though being in areas where you don't know where to shop for best prices can cost a certain percentage higher than at home. Depending if you buy a newer MH the cost per day would be higher, but I think if you buy new or slightly used (better), then sell in a ten or twelve year period the cost might be fairly comparable. If you bought top of the line MH, then I am sure you could be three or four times higher per day for the cost of the MH. I have not taken into account any maintenance, Insurance, or club service we are in.

I really can't do anything without planning as it is my nature. We did make the one stop without scheduling it. Once we get to a spot, then we sit down and decide what we will do for the day. Sometimes we plan a day or two ahead. We didn't make any stops going or coming home. Had I saw something and my wife would have wanted to stop I certainly would have. Finding a nice place along the road to stop is option. We ate lunch at a number of rest stops in the trucker's area. Stopping for 30 to 40 minutes. We usually have food prepared ahead to make it go a bit faster. On the way home we stayed just a bit longer at a campground until rainy weather cleared and it warmed up some. I also know the areas we traveled so wasn't all mystery to us.

No books but use the internet to check things out along the road. I do have books that I want to read (which were left by previous owner on places to see and visit) that are in my MH bag with all its manuals of operation.

The one place we stayed for a month was really tight to get into. I actually had to un-hook the car so I could drive into our spot then went and picked up the car about 5 minutes later. To pull into our spot, I would have had to went down a real narrow alley way they called a road in the park but I was afraid of hitting something, then back in. What I did was just pull straight in but then the rig was in backwards. Figure they would tell me to put it in right but they never did. I also could have drove past the paved road our spot was on, then backed up into the road way and into our site which was the second one in. It would have been tight that way as well. Just always take things slow and if you can have someone spot you. I took the easy way out there and backing up was easy the way I was in.

Getting back to needing extensions, yes because I was in backwards, I needed to have an extension cord (I had), I bought an extra length of sewer hose, had plenty of water line. I only hook the water line up to fill our tank then put it back into storage.

We brought a number of things with us. I think your question is more RV related than some of the items I took because it was related to astronomy. I did take a pair of big binoculars that I didn't use this time. I'd still take them again. Make sure you have a number of blankets that you take for those cold days. We have both blankets and sleeping bags. I plan to buy a fancy sleeping bag called the RV Super Bag for the next trip. We also had memory foam we had at the house we used to make the mattress easier to sleep on. I have a list that I made up well in advance on things to take. They have those in the library here as well. I can send you my list  (by PM here) but everyone's needs will be different. There are basics though.

I don't like to use a CC anymore than I have to but on a trip they are fairly important. I know you have to watch out for people who put in a card scanner at gas stations to get your CC info so if I am at a place that I wonder if it would be safe to use the CC, I just pay cash. Since we were still recovering from Christmas costs, I only took about $800 starting out. I usually like to  have $1,000 in a car or my van when I travel and figured $1,500 cash would have been nice in the MH. I get paid twice a month (I'm retired) and can go to my bank to get cash out if I need to. I'd say we used the CC about 1/3 of the time. Some of that was to track expenses.
Now need to pay it off in the next couple of months.  ::)

One bit of advise I can offer that is borrowed by the seasoned RV'ers, is to camp in your driveway or at least somewhere close to where you live. Spend several days or even a week living in your rig. You will realize real fast things that you need, and may even come up with some things that you may not even need. Basic things that you use in your kitchen are important. We have items we leave in the RV and things we take in and take out. Taking small trips before big ones can help you out a lot and we did this.

Taking camping food is a way around having to worry about meal planning. We buy freeze dry foods (you can get online or at Walmart or sporting goods store. Get in and you are tired, just boil some water and make your meal. Nothing fancy but fills you up enough. We also had snacks to munch if we got hungry. Pop corn came in nice on movie nights. Have fun and if I can answer any more questions let me know. Hope I helped.
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: camperAL on April 03, 2017, 01:15:53 AM
Hi Jackiemac,

I was glad to post our adventure. Hope I wasn't too generic. Thanks for reading!

Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: ArdraF on April 03, 2017, 04:20:29 PM
I'm glad to hear you finally got your motorhome and took your first trip.  It was interesting to read how you did it as a first timer.  Our first trip was so long ago - we brought our motorhome home, filled it, and took off the following week to circumnavigate the USA!  Talk about seat-of-the-pants!  We didn't have the internet and all the online stuff back then - just paper maps - so we didn't do much planning ahead of time.  We had a great trip of about 15,000 miles that included bits of western and eastern Canada, all the way down to Key West, and back across to California.  We had maybe four mishaps along the way, but none serious and we sure learned a lot!  Every trip is an adventure and we're still learning!

Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: camperAL on April 03, 2017, 08:39:49 PM
Hi ArdraF,

We certainly took a long time to select our motorhome but I think we are happy with our layout and I don't think I could talk my wife to upgrade even if I wanted to which I don't. I can say the only real thing that I might possible want in the coach is another slide in the bedroom. We can walk around the bed but it is a bit narrow. Everything else is as we want it. I may do a bit of remodeling later on. In a way I have done a bit already by putting in a nicer/larger TV which is four times lighter.

While the internet is a nice feature for scoping out the area for things you might want to find, I am still a big fan of paper maps for navigation. My wife like to check where we are at and when rest stops are coming up so we can decide if we want to stop or not. There is something to be said of doing things more spontaneous. I may have to take a trip one time and do that.

I admire your sense of adventure and exploring on your first trip not to mention the area you covered. Wondering how long your trip was? I'd guess four months minimum. Safe travels!
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: Kevin Means on April 04, 2017, 11:55:20 AM
I enjoyed every word you wrote Al. Thanks for taking the time to share it with us.

Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: muskoka guy on April 04, 2017, 05:03:03 PM
Great story camper al, glad your trip was memorable. One thing you may not be aware of is that with most motorhomes, the generator will not work below a quarter of a tank. The reason is so that you cant strand yourself by having the generator run your fuel tank empty. If you ever needed that compressor and your tank was near empty, the genny would be of no use. For this reason I always start looking for fuel as I approach the 3\8 mark. If an emergency arises or bad weather comes up, always nice to keep a reserve so the generator is available should you need it. Enjoyed your post. Happy trails.
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: ArdraF on April 04, 2017, 05:17:03 PM
Al, we were gone 2 1/2 months and drove 15,000 miles in our 19 1/2 foot El Dorado Class C.  Went north from southern California all the way into western Canada, drove across the northern U.S. including Davenport IA and Detroit MI to visit family, then up into the Maritimes, back into the U.S. at Lebec, Maine, down to Key West, and then west.  The home stretch was more of a straight line because I got a job offer while we were gone and needed to get back to quit my old job and get ready to move.

Our four "events" happened in West Virginia when we lost some engine fluid (very nice farmer helped and we stayed at his farm that night), an oil hose broke loose on a midwestern freeway exit (luckily right next to a truck repair business), a radiator hose clamp loosened on a bridge as we were entering St. Augustine FL, and a wire caught fire as we were driving on a freeway maybe in Alabama.  On the fire, Jerry yanked the wire loose to stop the burning, climbed the fence, knocked on someone's door, and they called for a tow truck.  No cell phones back then (1972) - and people actually opened their doors to strangers.  All four were positive events and barely slowed us down.  Each time we were back on the road within a few hours.

By the way, as you may have gathered from some of my previous posts, we still don't do a lot of planning.  Sometimes we leave a campground in the morning and stop at the gate to decide which direction to go.  Or, the weather turns bad and we change direction.  One time we were going to Montana, got into snow in Wyoming, and ended up in El Paso!

Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: camperAL on April 04, 2017, 09:04:53 PM
Hi Kev,

Thank you a lot!! A big complement coming from you! I tend to watch your advice on here and follow your travels when I can. Some people on the forum tend to stand out a bit and I keep a watch for what they are doing out of interest.

Hi muskoka,

Good advise for sure and one I need to remember. I ordinarily wouldn't let a tank get that empty but thanks to the people that were camped  ;D at the gas pumps I decided to move on down the road. All the pumps were busy and I didn't see a way of not waiting another half hour or more. We do have cells so could call for help if a tire problem or something beyond my control. If I'd ran out of gas or felt I better shut it down, would have unhooked and bought 10 gallons of gas and went back to put it in. This is something I would not like to ever happen though. Out of the whole trip, this was the only time we were too low on fuel.

I need to figure out a way to put heat up by where our feet our at. I really don't like running the gen set but when you are cold you don't worry about costs or having to make a stop earlier for fuel. Also at that point in the trip we were in a fairly warm environment so didn't need to run the generator at that point. Just when we left home and came back.

Hi ArdraF,

1972 and on my folks were doing regular travel in their RV (a Superior Motorhome, pictured in my Avator). They were in a Good Sam Club called the Rambling Rascals. They often did caravans as a group. When they were gone I took care of their bills at home and check in on the house several times each week. Fond memories! Wondering if you ever rubbed elbows with them on the road??

I'd like to do a trip like yours sometime. Doing a circle around the states and possibly picking places to see. Glad your "events" were not too serious! Although any fire situation is potentially very bad. I took an extra fire extinguishers in hope I wouldn't ever need it. I don't like the smaller ones they have which aren't big enough but could make a difference. A CO2 would be a good one to have as I think I have that nasty white powder type. Glad you were able to act fast on the wire fire problem (hey that rhymes)

Your last statement had me laughing a bit with your method of selecting a route. Headed toward Montana and ended up at El Paso  ;D  More people should be like that! Just don't forget there are oceans each end of the country  ::)  Have a great night everyone!
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: hedhunter9 on April 04, 2017, 10:55:09 PM
  Loved reading your reports..

We are from Northern Indiana and heading south in cold weather, we experienced the cold front end as well, even with the heater blowing HOT air out like mad.... Just too much area to heat and too many big cold windows..
  Our solution, Besides having the furnace on, was to get 2 small electric heated blankets. (menards, $14 each). We plug them in the cig lighters, and wrap them around our legs and lap.. Keeps ya toasty warm...!

Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: Heli_av8tor on April 05, 2017, 08:32:01 AM
Al, thanks for sharing. You motel experiences are a big reason we bought a motorhome. Just took delivery last week and have been busy outfitting and fixing little things. We had a small Class C 25 years ago but really didn't get much use from it. Making a living kept getting in the way of having fun.

We plan some one or two week jaunts this summer and will explore Florida and the southern border to the west next winter. I hope to stay on as much public land as possible, avoiding private campgrounds.
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: rvannie23 on April 05, 2017, 09:51:35 AM
Loved this!! What a great read. I have yet to have my maiden voyage towing my own TT but I have a lot of concerns about most of the stuff you mentioned...fitting in to places, having to plan ahead of time to stop for fuel, not being able to grab something from a drive-thru... etc. I like the idea of carrying plastic cans to fill up just in case you couldn't fit the rig in the station and really needed fuel. Agreed that being in a camper is 100000x better than motels. All of your stuff is right there! Your bed, your shower, your closet...just cant compare. I also had no idea Aldi was set up like that so thats a good thing to remember. Cant wait to read about the next trip. Thanks for sharing : )
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: camperAL on April 05, 2017, 03:29:12 PM
Hi Hedhunter9,

Thanks for your kind comments. I like the idea of the electric blankets up front on 12 volt. Might be able to also use the inverter power somehow to heat just a bit. While your heater in front was working, ours was not! We did put light coats on and ran the furnace but really it is the cold up front. Besides that their seem to be some vents that I could not shut off, that allowed cold air in. I ended up duck taping them off to some degree until I can trouble shoot things at home.

Hi Heli_av8tor,

You mentioned making a living kept getting in the way of having fun, I was fairly lucky to work at a place that offered more vacation weeks as you continued to work. I had 5 weeks of vacation per year after I put in 25 years. On the other hand (humor alert) I would have never hired in that place if I knew they expect results.  ;D

I see the motel prices climbing up to much higher prices, the only thing that campers have to really worry about is an increase in campground costs and fuel but CG seem to be fairly modest for what you tend to get and who knows about fuel. I still like the Rv'n way. Wishing you uneventful, fun filled travels as you get out on the road!

Hi rvannie23,

Thanks for your kind remarks as well! It was my goal to try to put into words my thoughts on our travels to share with others, especially campers in my shoes who are beginning the journey.

In regards to fitting into places, I have a feeling the seasoned old timers, could have done this with little trouble. Since we are new, we opted for taking smaller (easier) steps until we get brave enough (and experienced enough) to get into tighter spots.

As far as fast food, camping closer to moderate to larger cities might offer a chance to unhook (if you really want to do this) and go grab a bite to eat somewhere. Nancy and I like the Waffle houses a lot and McDonald's has the breakfast burrito, hashbrown and coffee which was always something we enjoyed on the road while traveling. Mountain House makes an item called breakfast skillet which we like a lot. Only requires boiling water to reconstitute, that we find great for breakfast.  Doesn't compare to making your own fresh breakfast. Good luck in your travels and just take your time and I am sure the fear of taking the first trip is much worse in your mind than it is in reality!
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: WILDEBILL308 on April 05, 2017, 09:06:26 PM
Al, Glad you are having fun. Have you looked at You can save some money on camp groundes, last year I saved over $450.00.
On your heater in the front problem. Some coaches have a valve to shut off water to the  heater in the front. Look for that and cheack and see if the inlet side hose is getting hot. Allso see if the floper door is closing, try running it on recirulate. Cheack your controlls, the defalt is to go to full defrost. Is your dash aircompresser running in "heat"? It should run when in defrost. The tempature control maynot be working.
 Plug all the air leaks in the front fierwall. A small leak will let in a bunch of cold air.
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: NY_Dutch on April 05, 2017, 09:31:52 PM
Al, I enjoyed reading your adventures and recalling my own early days in a motorhome years ago. You mentioned a couple of times the gas pump limit on credit card fill ups, so I thought I'd mention that in most cases, adding more fuel is as simple as just re-swiping your card and starting the pump again. The pump limits are usually set at the per transaction amount the CC company will reimburse the station owner for fraudulent card use. Some stations set a 2 swipe limit, but that's usually enough at today's lower fuel prices.
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: muskoka guy on April 06, 2017, 08:45:11 AM
My friend travels in the winter to his daughters in British Columbia every year. He installed a collapsible curtain rod behind the drivers compartment. He hangs a curtain so that he can heat only the cab area when travelling and keeps the coach at a lower temperature. Not sure if this advise will help, but that is what he does. When not in use he just takes it down and stows the rod below.
Title: Re: CamperAL's First Major Trip
Post by: camperAL on April 06, 2017, 02:34:51 PM

First thanks for taking the time to offer assistance with the heat problem. I haven't looked at any of those things (yet) but will pursue that when things warm up just a bit. We are also having high winds here right now and not wanting to fiddle with things. I will try each of those things and see what I can find out. When I moved the control in the front to different settings, it didn't seem to matter. I would flip the heat on and put it on full high and after just a bit, a little warm air would flow, then after a tiny bit of time, would go cold on me again. There seems to be some openings where the cold air was flowing at a pretting good rate. My wife just put down a towel to stop the air and covered with a blanket. It was only a problem when really cold outside. Thanks!

Hi NY_Dutch,

I thought about trying to swipe the card again on several of my fueling stops, but never tried to. I will remember that for future use. The real secret is being able to get to the pump  ;)   thank you for your tip!

Hi muskoka guy,

That was another things I also thought about enclosing the front end. You come up with all kinds of ideas when there is a need. I think I'll pursue some of the suggestions WILDEBILL308 made as that will probably get the front heat working. After that, we'll see if we need to add or do anything else. Many thanks to all!