Friday, April 29, 2011

Wannabees, Newbies, Soon-to-Be, Dreaming of …Full-Time Rv’ing

It is a difficult transition, even though an exciting one, moving from a stationary home to an RV. These were a few of my early experiences. My main concern had been finding places where I could boondock. I should have spent more time getting familiar with my RV. However, it would not be until I ended up at Slab City, CA where there were many full-timers who were manna from heaven in the help department.

If I were to give any advice to newbies, it would be first and foremost to get acquainted with your RV and its many systems; at first they appear more complicated than pressing a switch for light or turning the tap for water. And they are. Speaking for myself, I was petrified for lack of clear instructions.

/I had sold my house and all its belongings. A friend loaned me the use of her backyard, where in early April we got snow. It gave me a chance to see that the furnace worked well. Great! A relief since it appeared that much else was troublesome. When I had first connected a hose to the intake for city water, the whole house got flooded! An internal plastic connection had dried up for lack of use for the previous 2 years in a very dry climate. With the snow and freezing temperatures, I was afraid that more damage would ensue.
I had read the owner’s manual but had found it pretty close to useless, except for showing where things were…. I don’t wish to diss the owner’s manual that I was given, but it contained at least 2 or 3 WARNINGS per page, to the point that it was not only tedious but downright ridiculous. It contained not one IOTA of practical assistance. On top of this, all the warnings made me quite stressed out with the fear of making serious mistakes simply pushing an unmarked button. But I had to wing it. I wish it to nobody else.

In a regular house or apartment, we are used to just plug in and presto, here’s electric power. Speaking strictly for me, I was at first bewildered by the many monitoring devices to which I had to pay attention. Enough water in the tank? Press this button to check. State of the batteries? Another button. Fresh or refuse or grey water tanks full.. or empty… as the case may be? Buttons and LED lights were my guides to so many things totally new to me. I was worried that I’d inadvertently forget something before going for parts unknown. Did I remember to lower the TV antenna? I can’t count the many times I was honked at because I’d forgotten to lower my TV antenna! For the solo RV’er, there is no ready assistance. Is the awning secure? Many an awning has been damaged for lack of securing it tightly, and so on, and on, and on….

Before I hit the road for more serious traveling, I made me a point-by-point list that I taped above the exit door of the house. I remember that there were 14 items on the list and I made a habit of always checking it. More than once, it was a device-saviour (not a life-saviour) but one that I and my devices surely appreciated. For my peace of mind and their longevity! Also, I recall reading many advice books and articles about full-time RV’ing that, to my novice eye, appeared more technical than I was ready for. What about the basics? It came through experiencing living in my RV. Weekend or vacation RV’ers never had to worry about LIVING IN AN RV FULL-TIME! Roll into any RV park, plug in and relax.

So, here’s my two-bits of wisdom learned from the hard-earned lessons of full-time RV’ing. FIRST, LEARN ABOUT YOUR OWN RIG. Figure yourself in a wilderness somewhere (even if you’re in your own backyard) and attempting to survive alone. You and your rig. LED red light on? OMG what’s it about? What to do? Enough propane? What about electric power? Are the dishes secure? I had forgotten to tell my daughter when she was drying the dishes (Corelle) to insert an anti-skid square between the plates. The first right turn on the road and all went flying to their untimely death. Water, the most crucial concern. Both getting it and getting rid of it. Sewage is the big one. I had read an article by a full-timer that you get rid FIRST of sewage, then of grey water. One of the many tricks that one develops with time.

I would like to cite an example of “ignorance is NOT bliss. This was related to me by the owner of an RV Park where water and dumping were accessible to visitors for a small fee. She had noticed that a visitor with a longish trailer behind a vehicle was going back and forth along the dump holes. She asked her husband to go check whether the driver was in difficulty. He had been attempting he said, quite annoyed, to line up the trailer as close as possible to a dump hole until he was satisfied that he could pull the handle and let the sewage find its not-so-merry way to the sewage hole. The husband was quite annoyed and remarked that he was supposed to use a HOSE. ‘What hose?’ the driver asked. ‘The one in your rear bumper’, the husband answered. To which the driver then retorted, ‘You should have put a sign!’

The idea is not necessarily to become proficient in running everything. This comes with time. It’s to r e a l l y familiarize oneself with the basic running of everything needed for living with the minimum of stress and hitting the road worry-free.

And it is exciting! I guarantee it!

PS. Yes, you too have a hose in the rear bumper…


Teri said...

Thanks for the advice, and yes there are a lot of buttons and warning devices. And things to check before pulling out of a site.

Bob said...

Hi. Glad you're still blogging. This was a good post. Even though I've done this before, I'm about to go again. Reminders are very helpful and I like your idea about posting a note near to the door.

momi yaya said...

Enjoyed your post. I can relate to not being familiar with my coach when I first got it. It sat in my driveway for almost 6 months before I felt comfortable enough to go on a short camping trip. It was on that trip that I learned a lot about all of the buttons. I learned to hang my keys on the TV antenna crank so that in order to start the coach I have to look up at the crank. Good reminder.

Stargazer said...

What a great idea of hanging the keys on the TV antenna! That's what I mean by learning tricks from other full-timers. I can't emphasize how truly helpful road veterans were to me. Thanks for the comments!

Anonymous said...

I intend to get an extended run gas tank for the generator and a solar setup. Then, I will live in the trailer in the back yard before I take off long term. I also have a check list. Thank you for your words of wisdom.

Pleinguy said...

So glad you decided to continue blogging. Good to hear about the challenges to RVing. So many posts only talk about the roses. Look forward to news about your casita. Hope all is well in your corner of the world.

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