Dear RV Diary,
We picked up our new RV Travel Trailer in February. Then the Coronavirus, COVID-19, swept around the world and everything stopped. Campgrounds and State Parks were closed to visitors. We are now in the middle of June and things are slowly starting to open back up. We took our first four-night / five-day RV trip to O’Bannon Woods State Park in Corydon, Indiana, which is only about an hour from our home. We needed a mini getaway after being quarantined in the house since March 13th. RVing is new to us and I want to share the lessons learned on our first RV trip.
Introducing “Evadere”. Evadere is a latin word meaning ‘to escape’. We call her Eva for short. EVA also stands for Extra Vehicular Activities. 🙂
A rear view provides peace of mind.
We picked up our travel trailer from the storage unit on Friday afternoon. Hitching up and pulling out of the spot went smoothly. Bill had previously bought and installed a Furrion Rear Camera on the trailer, which worked fine when installed. Now that we were ready to leave, it would not come on. We had hit our first road bump. No matter. It’s not an absolute necessity to get where we are going.
While driving, I was having anxiety every time we needed to change lanes. Though we could see the sides of the trailer, using these towing mirror extensions we bought for our F150, we could not see what was behind us. Some people like to speed around RV’s without warning, so this made me nervous.
I was trying to think of the reasons the camera would not be working, and I asked Bill if the RV battery needed to be on for the camera to work. He said no, the power comes from the truck. Bill then wondered if the running lights needed to be on for the camera to work. BINGO. He turned on the running lights and the camera immediately started working. We could see all the cars behind and around us. What a relief! I felt my anxiety melt away. I highly recommend installing a rear-view camera on your RV.
Why are the RV electrical outlets not working?
We arrived at O’Bannon Woods State Park and found our spot. Being newbies, it took us two or three tries to get the RV backed into the spot exactly where we wanted it, but it was not bad at all.
As we were getting organized, we hit our second road bump. We noticed none of the electrical outlets were working. We had power. The water pump worked. The AC worked. The lights worked. The electrical plugs did not work. The kitchen outlet had a sticker on it that said GFCI, but there was no button on the outlet to press.
We checked the circuits, which all looked fine. We looked at each outlet in turn and found that the bathroom outlet is the GFCI which controls all other outlets in the RV. We pressed the button there and all the outlets started working.
Use leveling blocks rather than fully extending the stabilizers.
Another lesson learned on this trip is that we should have paid closer attention to the grade of the site. The rear of the site was slanted down, so we should have put more blocks under the rear stabilizers to keep them from extending too far. The stabilizers were fine, but they were extended almost all the way. Two days later we took the RV to get more water from a pump in the campground and we corrected the issue at that time by placing more leveling blocks under the rear stabilizers.
Anti-Sway is the way to go!
The fourth lesson learned on our first RV trip is that we would not have filled the fresh water tank before going. I think it was maybe 2/3 full instead of completely full. We could feel it sloshing around as we drove. We have a Blue Ox anti-sway hitch, so it was ok, but it just felt weird while driving. If you are going to drive with water in your tank, make sure it’s completely full.
Useful mini-fridge, or more storage space?
The fifth lesson learned on our first RV trip was all about the outdoor mini fridge. Prior to going on our first trip, we didn’t think we would use the outdoor fridge much. Seriously, it’s like a five-foot walk to just go inside to the RV fridge to grab something. We thought maybe we would remove the outdoor mini fridge and use that space for more storage of outdoor kitchen gadgets and our outdoor Blackstone Table Top Grill.
Come to find out, the outdoor mini fridge was extremely useful. We cooked most of our meals outside on our Blackstone Grill, so having the ingredients stored close-by was helpful. Plus, since we were eating outside most of the time, it was quick and easy to store the refrigerated items outside instead of gathering all of them and having to go back into the RV to store them before eating our meal. Another advantage is that using the outdoor mini fridge freed up some much-needed space in the RV fridge. The RV fridge is NOT big, so it fills up quickly.
A table top grill or griddle is so easy and convenient.
The Blackstone Grill brings us to our sixth lesson learned. We highly recommend this table top grill / griddle! It was so useful. Yes, we could have done all the cooking inside on the RV stove, but cooking outside keeps the food smells from permeating the RV and the bedding. Plus, it saves water because you just need to scrape the grill instead of washing pots and pans. Some foods we cooked on the grill include eggs, bacon, ham, pancakes, and sautéed onions and green peppers for fajitas. Surprising to us, the Blackstone Grill stores easily in our outdoor kitchen compartment.
Rain, rain, go away!
While not really a lesson learned on our first RV trip, per se, a realization came to mind. It sure is nice having an RV as opposed to a tent when it rains. We have done our fair share of tent camping in the rain over the years. It’s not all bad. But if you’d rather not be soaked to the bone with your clothing sticking to you, it’s a nice option to be able to sit under the RV awning or just go inside for a while. Luckily, it only rained for a few hours early one morning. The rest of the time we could not have paid for better weather!!
Emptying the black tank seems daunting…until you do it.
Emptying the black and grey tanks is another lesson learned. The idea of dealing with the black tank when you have never done it before can be a little daunting. I’m here to tell you how easy it was. We pulled up to the dump station which was near the entrance / exit of the campground. We hooked up our sewer hose to the sewer drain. There was a water hose on a pole so we could add water to the tank first. Then we pulled the black tank valve to open it to the sewer. Once that was empty, we closed that valve and opened the grey tank valve. Once that was empty, we unhooked, and stored our hose in the bumper. It was that simple. Easy peasy.
Backing the RV into a tight spot.
The last lesson learned on our first RV trip, and I think the most important, is about backing our RV into its storage spot. This spot is pretty tight, and we are NEWBIES! Patience is a necessity and it’s not easy to remain patient when you get frustrated.
We store our RV in a covered facility. It’s like a really long parking lot aisle with a roof, a wall at the back, and a wall at each end, but open in the front. There are other people’s vehicles on either side of ours. Each parking spot has two huge wood support beams on either side of the entrance to the spot.
The thing that makes it so difficult to back an RV into the spot is that just a short distance across the aisle is a row of regular storage units. There’s just not enough room to maneuver the trailer AND the truck. It’s not impossible because we have done it, but it is extremely difficult and frustrating when the truck and trailer get mostly into the spot, but there is no room in front of the truck to straighten it out!
So here it is. The most important lesson learned on our first RV Trip is that it’s much quicker and less frustrating to just UN-HITCH, move the truck to a better alignment, and RE-HITCH. We wish we would have done it sooner as it would have saved some frustration and time.
A Question for YOU!
Are you an RV Newbie? If so, what lessons did you learn on your first trip? Are you an experienced RVer? If so, what advice can you give to all of us newbies?