Mid August Adventure, Part tree-fiddy

I crack me up…

So anyway, I got all packed up and ready to roll out of LaGrange. I got on the road, and dealt with the usual mix of people driving their phones and playing with their cars, people who don’t know how to merge, people who wait until it’s too late to merge and then cut you off, and one drunk motorcyclist who thought my decals were the coolest mural ever.

I get to my destination, I check in at the office, we make some changes to my site assignment, and off I go to set up camp. I got side-to-side level (always do this first!!) on the the third pull-in, without blocks, and was very happy. I set about setting up camp (check out my procedures posts!) and i’m thinking the worst is over. (Ominous music here).
I open the back compartment door to get my freshwater hose out and I see not one, not TWO, BUT THREE new ant nests. THREE. IN. MY. COMPARTMENT. Fine, you want war? War it is! I spent 20 minutes with a shop vac sucking those little buggers up, and i’m pretty sure all my neighbors think i’m bonkers now because I was quoting Enders Game the whole time. Damn buggers.

Ok, buggers vacuumed, connections made, camp set up, the dog walked, and a bunch of other little things, so now back to finish dumping my black tank (it never got emptied the second time).
I turn on the sewer flusher hose, hear nothing. Darn. I leave it on about halfway, open the black tank valve, and watch happily as mostly clean water drains out. Great! All clean, no big deal. I go inside, (I wipe my feet) I check the tank levels, and all three show empty. Awesome! I got outside, I close all three tank valves, and I go on working on the internet connection. I determine it’s a lack of park bandwidth, see that I need groceries, and hear my dog telling me it’s time to go to the park.

So off we go, Scout and I, to the park, where she had a great time and I hung out. Then off to get groceries, and finally, back home after three hours. Three hours…. that nagging feeling in the back of my head… three hours… odd. I think I missed something, forgot something. Weird.
I put away the groceries, feed the dog, and go to use the head. I notice its more than halfway full, which is odd, since I never leave it that way, and thought it was empty when I left. No matter, i’ll just flush it all away… BLOOOOMP. Yeah. Ever seen a toilet burp a geyser?? I have, I did, right there. Water all over the floor. Water all over the seat! Water all over my feet. (See? Even in a crappy time, I made a rhyme) (SARAH, SO HELP ME…)

What happened you ask? Well, i’ll tell ya. I checked the tank levels, and sure enough, black tank? FULL. I mean FULLLLLL to the BRIM, and then some. You may recall I left the sewer flusher on about halfway, and never did turn it off? Yeah, that’s what I forgot.
So, lesson learned, don’t leave your sewer flusher on and go away on adventure, because you’ll come back to a pedal activated geyser!

So now here I sit, fingers sore from all this typing, brain happy from the wine, floor clean from the towels, tanks clean and empty, and i’m happy to pass this story on to you in the hopes that when you make these mistakes, you’ll laugh about them, too.
(Ok Sarah, you can laugh at me now).

Mid August adventure, part duex

Part duex… as in doody.. Hahahaha….. hah. Ok, enough of the crappy jokes, back to the story!
So, I had just watched the dump station overflow, fought with it awhile, and finally washed it all away with clean water. I packed up my stuff and that’s when I realized I had left behind my splitter and regulator, but I did NOT want to take the rig back through the park (super nice park, but the one main road going through is narrow and twisty all the way through).

Ta-Da! The bike-mobile to the rescue. Yes, I rode my bike, yes, I went fast, and yes I breathed a lot when I got back. Shush (especially you, SARAH.)

So, i’m thinking it’s all good, I just need to put my crap away and go on, right? (All together now…) W R O N G.
The ground is now burping up MORE stuff, so i’m battling it with the hose, flooding the area with clean water, and losing. It took five whole minutes to get that under control, and the ground stopped burping; ridiculous.

You’d think i’d be done by now, right? Yeah. So then I go around the other side to put my wheel chocks back in their compartment (a place for everything, everything in it’s place) and when I open the door, did I find a nice, clean compartment with space for my wheel chocks?? No, I DID NOT. ANTS. ANTS ALL UP IN IT. They not only had a nest in there, they had a hotel, a pool, a jacuzzi, a strip mall, a strip club, and a strip for airplanes. So, being an external compartment, I just hosed it all out! Easy, right? (All together now) W R O N G. I got water EVERYWHERE. You know what else I got everywhere? Yep, ants. Ants all over. So now i’ve got wet, angry, ants on various parts of me, i’ve got a hose that’s all wet and slippery kind of in my hands, and i’ve got globs of mud coming out of the compartment from me spraying their nest in there. (Sarah, SHUT. UP.)

Ok, so, I get the hose under control, I rinse the compartment from a safer distance, I get the ants off of me, I get the wheel chocks put away, and eventually get everything else ready to transport in one way or another. I dry off (ALWAYS keep extra towels in the truck, you never know what life will hand you!) take a few minutes to just breathe, and remind myself, “A bad day of RVing is better than a good day in a house” (I’d like to spray wet, angry ants on the person who came up with that crap!).

Stay tuned for part three…..

Mid August adventure

Hello faithful readers!
(Hey to y’all that just come by now and then :P)

Today was packed full of adventure (problems) and I reminded myself several times that I really should be blogging more of my adventures, so here we are.

I did all the big packing last night, like I always do, so I only had a few key things to pack and put away this morning. I ran some errands, got those done, and proceeded to make ready, bring in the slides, and hookup.
I was camping in a park, on the lake (BEAUTIFUL site, AMAZING view!) but it was water and power only, no sewer, so I had to stop by the dump station on my way out, no big deal.
Well, it was a big deal (ominous music here).
I got to the dump station, got lined up just right the first time (Easy to do, there’s a big concrete strip in asphalt where your dump tube goes!) and hooked up my sewer hose. I pulled the black tank handle (Always dump the black tank first!), and watched with a silly satisfaction as the liquid quickly filled the hose and whooshed away (sound effect here). That lasted of all 10 seconds, and then, a slow, tiny, brown trickle (I hope you’re not eating while reading this!). Trickle, trickle, drip, drip, nothing.

Ok, no problem, just a clogged valve, I can handle this! I quickly cycled the valve gate several times in an effort to dislodge the stoppage, no help.
I hooked up the sewer flusher hose (having a built in sewer flusher is AMAZING) and turned it on… no noise, no sound, no flow inside.
The downside to doing this solo is that I have no one to tell me what’s going on inside, or to turn valves outside, while I do the other thing, so I have to walk around the RV, go inside, wipe my feet real good (hey, i’m solo, not an animal!) and look/listen for signs of my sewer flush system working. Nothing. No sound, no movement of water under the toilet flap, nada.
So I go back outside, disconnect the hose, check the water flow, and it’s flowing fine. Great. Take the elbow connector off, and find crud on the screen washer between the elbow connector and the hose fitting into the RV. Awesome, little screen did it’s job, I clean out the mess, verify the screen is good to go, and put it all back together. Now we have water flowing through the sewer flusher pushing the clog out, right?
Walk around the RV, get in, wipe my feet, go into the bathroom, look/listen. Nothing. Nada. Zip.
Go back outside, walk around the RV, look at hose connection, scratch head, shrug, turn hose off, move hose to sewer line flusher. Turn on full blast, turn on little connector between hose and sewer connector, and…. psssss….. little tiny spray of water. That little rubber piece inside? All smashed up. Yay.
Ok, fine, next idea. Close black tank valve. Connect city water connection. Turn on city water connection, walk around RV, go inside (wipe feet), go into the bathroom, point very bright flashlight down toilet bowl, press pedal to the floor, and watch water swirl into the tank. Hold this position until tank is almost full (doesn’t take long, it was FULL when I started, and only let out a little).
Great! Go back outside, open black tank valve, grin as waste goes WHOOOOOOSSHHHH. Awesome.

Tank empties, I close valve, go back inside (wipe feet), fill up tank with toilet again. Takes forever, play on facebook and search on indeed while I stand there. Side note, there are no jobs for pedal holder, but plenty of jobs around pushing a pedal. I’m clearly overqualified.
Tank is full, go back outside, open valve. Big whoosh, mostly clear, much happy. Hear metal tinkling sound, think, “THat’s not good…”, turn to sewer connector in ground (less connector, more hole at ground level that you drop your elbow connector into) and watch as the ground burps up my connector, shoving it two feet to the side, and then spews… waste.
I take a BIG step back, close the black tank valve, and watch as the ‘water’ overflows the concrete drain area and into the grass area around it. It was at this point I took note of the much thicker, greener, taller grass in the middle of the small valley where the runoff was going, and it suddenly dawned on me… Yeah.
So, I scratch head some more, text the park manager, and attempt a couple of ways to unclog the drain. All failed, all made more mess, so I simply diluted the water until it was clear around the drain and didn’t stink anymore. I cleaned up my hoses, hung them on the back steps to dry while I drove, and pondered my next move.

Whew, we’re over the worst of it now, right? Wrong.

Road Readiness

Hello readers!

So in this series we’re discussing all the things relating to ‘Getting Started’ in RVing, so in this entry, let’s talk about Road Readiness.

Road readiness is something you should check your rig for before every trip, and maintain a constant eye on while traveling.
Road readiness for you is just as important, but seems to be often overlooked.
In order for you to be ‘Road Ready’, you’ll want to make sure you have:

  • Insurance!
    • Whether you add on to your existing policy, or buy a new policy, make sure you have insurance that covers yours needs.
      Some key things to look for are coverage for damage you might do to other people’s stuff (like backing over something and knocking a pole over), and coverage that insures your rig gets fixed if someone or something damages it.
    • I also recommend coverage dealing with towing, accommodations, and other travel insurance to ensure your trip goes as smooth as it can.
      This type of insurance generally covers a reasonable cost for out of pocket expenses incurred because you can’t use your RV for a few days while it’s being repaired.
  • Licensing!
    • Each state may have it’s own licensing requirements based on the Gross Weight of the vehicle, and some have further restrictions based on number of vehicles being towed, types of vehicles, and/or length. Be sure to check with your states regulating office for the details.
      I also recommend www.dmv.org for lots of useful information for each state.
  • Roadside Assistance
    • Your insurance policy may include roadside assistance, but it’s prudent to make sure it covers your RV, too. If it does, great! If not, having roadside assistance is something you should definitely have before you call yourself ‘Road Ready’.

 

No matter what kind of rig you have, making sure all your paperwork is in order before you go will help you have a hassle-free trip!

Packing the essentials

HI again! 🙂

RV life is great, and just like everything else, there’s some stuff you’ll need, and some stuff you might want. Here’s my pick of the essential gear, the stuff I use, and some stuff from what i’ve learned along the way.

YOU GOTTA HAVE:

  1. Connections!
    1. For getting power to your rig, you’ll need a power cord (which your rig should come with) and some adapters. You should have adapters to connect your rig to 50, 30, and 15 amp power connections, but keep in mind you’ll have one of those built in, depending on if your rig uses 30 or 50 amp power. Also note that you can run a 50 amp rig on 30 amps, albeit with an eye towards amp usage, and you can run a 30 amp rig on 50 amp, but you don’t get more power by plugging a 30 amp rig into a 50 amp outlet.
      You might also consider some kind of surge protection device. These can be expensive, but they’re far cheaper than replacing the electrical system in your RV if there’s a bad enough issue.
    2. For water, you should have one fresh water hose (make sure it’s drinking water safe!) that’s ONLY used for fresh water (not for anything else).
      You may want a second hose for gray water/sewer flushing/general hose use, and/or another fresh water hose to make sure you can reach the faucet (or as a backup!).
      I also use a pressure regulator to make sure the water pressure coming into my rig is not above the 55 PSI, per, the manufacturer specs for my rig.
      My primary regulator has a gauge and is adjustable, but my backup regulator is pre-set at 45 PSI, and doesn’t have a gauge.
      I also have splitters, shut-off valves, and 90 degree elbows for my particular setup, but that’s all up to you.
    3. For sewer, you need to have a sewer hose, an elbow (preferably clear so you can see the motion inside), and a threaded adapter.
      I also recommend an angled clear connector for the rig’s connection end, and mine has a hose connection that I really like for cleaning out the line.
      My kit has two main hoses, each extendable up to 10′ feet long, a coupler, caps for both ends of both hoses, a clear angled connector, a threaded sewer adapter, and a riser.
      The idea is to be able to connect to just about anywhere you go, so having all these pieces will make sure you can connect when you need to.
  2. Tools!
    1. Make sure you have a few tools on board, even if it’s just a few generic/multi use tools. At a minimum I recommend:
      1. Adjustable wrenches, one large, one small
      2. Channel locks, one large, one small
      3. Screwdrivers, either a multi-big driver, or Phillips #0, #1, #2, a small and medium flat head, a few torx drivers or bits, and anything specific to your rig.
      4. Allen wrenches! These are super handy when you need them.
      5. A small socket set can’t hurt, but check around in your rig and see what you might need to get stuff handled.
      6. A multi-meter. Even if you don’t know a whole lot about electricity, it’s still a great tool to have (and I can walk you through the steps to find the info you need for electrical issues!).
  3. Spare parts!
    1. I like to make sure I have spare stuff of anything important; the less I have to go run and find, the more I can enjoy camping!
      1. Fuses! (check the type of DC fuses used in your rig, and get an assortment of them to have on hand.
      2. Connections! Anything you use to connect your rig to the land, you should consider having an extra for. Some things matter more than others, so ponder on it awhile and figure it out as you go.
      3. Nuts, bolts, screws, and such. Even if they’re just generic sizes, make sure to have a few on hand for that ‘just-in-case’ scenario.
      4. Hose clamps! I’ve always kept a few different sizes of hose clamps around, and they’re super handy when you need them.
      5. Tapes! I always make sure to have electrical, gorilla, and plumbers tape on hand. These are the three most common tapes used, and painters tape is also handy for so many things.
      6. Spare tire/wheel seems obvious, but make sure you have it, and can get to it when needed. I have two spare wheel/tire combos ready to go since I travel so much, and if you’re full timing or travelling a lot, I recommend you do the same.

 

There’s a whole bunch of other stuff you can have on board, but these are the things that I believe you just have to have. The rest is optional! 🙂

Key differences

Hello again, faithful reader! So glad you’re back.

So let’s talk about some of the key differences between living in an RV and living in a house.

POWER

At home, the power is ‘always on’ (except when something knocks it out).
In an RV, power is supplied by ‘Shore Power’, which is plugging your RV into the power pedestal at the park, by a generator, by batteries with an inverter, or maybe even by solar power!
It’s also important to note that some things in the RV are DC powered, and some are AC powered.
I talk more about electrical systems in the category “Light it up”, but the key idea is that you’ll have to get power somewhere.

WATER

At home, your water is provided by the city, or via a well, and just like your power, it’s ‘just there’ (unless there’s a problem).
With an RV, you’ll generally have an on-board system which consists of your freshwater tank and a water pump, and then your waste tanks.
You also have the option to connect to ‘water supply’ at your campsite, but make sure to understand your system and your connections first! (That’s why you’re here reading my blog, isn’t it? :P)

WASTE

At home, your waste is handled by a city sewer connection or a septic tank, but either way I bet you don’t think about it much unless it’s not working.
In an RV, you have two types of waste water, Gray and Black.
Gray water is anything that goes down the drain of the sinks or the shower.
Black water is anything that went down the toilet.
It’s important to know the difference because there’s an order to dumping those tanks, AND, some places allow gray water drainage at site, while most do not.
Another important note is that your black tank acts as a septic tank, so you should NEVER leave it open when you’re connected to a sewer connection.
The gray tank, however, is fine to leave attached and open with a sewer connection.

Those are the main things to keep in mind when we’re talking about the difference between life at home, and life in an RV. Some of the ways those differences will matter to you are:

Shower time
Your water heater will only be 6 or 10 gallons (unless you have an on-demand water heater), so shower time will be shorter than at home. You’ll also want to leave a little time between running hot water for dishes, and taking a shower.

Power
Most homes come equipped with a 200 amp service panel, which means you can plug in all your stuff and have a party. In an RV, you’ll usually only have 50, 30, or even 20 amp service, so you’ll have to consider what’s plugged in, how many amps it takes (see the category “Light it up”), and what else is operating on your AC power.

Luckily, there are so many awesome things about RV life that these things are just notes to bear in mind, not even enough to qualify as a hassle! 🙂

So what is RVing?

Well faithful reader, i’m glad you asked!
RV stands for ‘Recreational Vehicle’, which simply means any vehicle built for the purpose of recreation. For the sake of this category, rest assured we’re talking about RV’s meant for use on land, like motorhomes, travel trailers, and the like. For a long list of terms, see this post.

The whole point of any RV is to get out and enjoy nature with the bonus of bring ‘house and home’ along with you. Whether you’re a weekend warrior exploring local spots, or a full-time on the road RVer seeing the whole country, recreating in the great outdoors with an RV is an awesome way to travel, explore, and enjoy vacation time.

There’s lots of useful posts in my blog, so do make use of the search box if you have questions. If you’re just getting started with RVing, here’s what I suggest:

  1. Before buying an RV, go to the largest RV dealer near you and look at all the different models, types, floor plans, and options. Do keep in mind you’re looking at new (or nearly new) models, and an older model may not have all those features, but this gives you a basis to start making some smart decisions.
  2. When you’re ready to camp, rent one first!
    If it all possible, rent an RV of some kind, whether it’s a motorhome you drive around, or a travel trailer already setup for you, just get out there and spend some time with one.
  3. When you decide you’re ready to buy, start small.
    I suggest you buy a gently used model, and invest the least amount of money possible into a quality RV to get you started.

I’ll talk about parts and pieces of the above points in later posts, but let’s close with this:
The more you know about RV’s, the better decision you can make. To get more information, you need to spend time in, around, and near RV’s!

Let’s get started!

So you’ve decided that you want to get started in RVing, and you’re looking for all the information you can get. You’re already off to a great start, because my blog is full of useful information for all walks of RVers, and i’m constantly adding more!

This category will target those who are completely new to RVing, so i’ll be keeping things as plain and simple as possible, while exposing you to the terms and ideas common in RV life.

So pack a lunch, buckle up, and let’s go have some adventure!

Introductions are in order

So this category is about my new pup Scout, and about life in an RV with a dog.

I adopted Scout from the LaGrange Humane Society on December 29th, 2017, and we quickly began adapting to life together in an RV. She’s a quick learner, full of energy, loves to take naps in between excursions, and insists on scouting out every single molecule of space in the TT, which means nothing is safe from her! 🙂

 

 

Chill, no chill

I’m having all kinds of fun down here in Georgia, but the weather is a special kind of adventure here these days.
So far, in the last 10 days, it’s been as warm as 65 degrees, and as cold as 20 degrees; all of that in 10 days!!
Luckily, i’ve got an oil-filled heater, and let me tell you, it’s SO NICE to have on the COLD nights. I wish i’d known the difference sooner, but now that I do, i’d like to share a little of my research with you.
When it comes to electric heaters, which are awesome while you’re connected to shore power (unless you’re on a metered connection!) there are a few different things to consider:

  • Convection heaters warm the air around them, which means they take awhile to heat up a whole room, but they do a great job of keeping the room warm for a long time. Radiator heaters fall into this category.
  • Radiant heaters warm the objects around them, which are great for immediate heat, and work best for short term use.
  • Here’s a link to more useful information about heating types.

 

In my TT, I have a small space heater in the bedroom, and a large oil-filled (radiating type) electric heater in the main room. I also have a large space heater for the big room, but when it drops below 40 outside, the oil filled heater does a much better job of keeping the place warm.

The other thing I really like about the oil-filled heater is that it helps to keep the floor, and under the floor, warm, which means the furnace doesn’t have to run nearly as much to keep the place warm!

One last note on space heaters: I much prefer the type of heaters that have analog thermostats, the kind with a knob and switch, instead of a digital thermostat so that if/when I trip a breaker, or if the power goes out temporarily, I don’t have to run around resetting heaters every time. Instead, the switch and knob stay where I left them, and when power comes back, they’re automatically on and running again.