Tales of an RV rookie

There are few sounds extra unnerving than dishes crashing to the ground.

Experiencing that racket whereas driving an RV on a sketchy campground street in Massive Sur multiplies the trauma by a few billion.

In fact, I knew there would be sure unpleasantries once I signed up for this American ceremony of passage, the one the place you drive a mini home with an outsized motor right into a redwood forest. (We’ll save the thrill of wastewater for final.) However I’m glad to say that not solely have we checked RVing off our Proud American Bucket Listing, we will’t wait to do it once more.

Regardless of the temporary crash, bang, increase — and different rookie hiccups that left me slapping my brow — the RV expertise made a rapid escape into nature extra comfy, much less soiled and much simpler than tent tenting.

We had dabbled with a car-top tent in Yosemite just lately, however this was a serious leap up tenting’s evolutionary ladder. Even perhaps into glamping territory. In that case, I’ll comfortably personal it. I’d somewhat put on the glamper label than the same old 5 further layers of dust, bug spray and bedtime clothes.

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The whole cooped-up world desires to get out into nature and breathe proper now. And with far-flung locations on maintain, Bay Space campsites and RV/trailer leases have by no means been busier.

The Pandemic Summer season has been actual. And our short-notice goals almost went poof after the primary few days of net search nothingness. I used to be rapidly over it. A staycation can be okay. The others had received.

Fortunately, my cussed higher half continued. Per week earlier than our trip, she discovered an RV website open for a protracted weekend in Massive Sur correct. With electrical and water hookups, the positioning proper alongside the Massive Sur River  would accommodate a rig of 28 ft or much less.

After just a few anxious days of looking, destiny put a 25-foot Class-C RV — a 2008 Tioga Ranger — into my Outdoorsy search outcomes. It was the best measurement, the best value, totally stocked for a fast household tour and even inside handy vary for pickup on the way in which to Massive Sur.

By some means, our household of 4 had plucked the tenting golden ticket out of skinny air.

It even had an electrical slide! I wasn’t certain what that was or the way it labored, however I knew it was a candy characteristic. A Google search confirmed its majesty.

We picked up our RV from an proprietor who clearly loves adventuring in his rig as a lot as he enjoys sharing that have with others. He demonstrated how {the electrical}, propane and sewer programs labored and, after all, the finer factors of the slide. They have been amongst what appeared like 1,500 essential steps to this bug-eyed RV first-timer.

I crammed at the least 5 or 6 ideas that appeared most essential into my growing old reminiscence financial institution, loaded in our gear and away we went, prepared for journey — and mayhem.

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Since Massive Sur is an enormous, vertical, difficult place to discover by foot or bike — and it appeared unwise to schlep the RV wherever as soon as it was in place — we introduced our mid-size SUV as nicely.

My concept of a tenting journey includes a bit bit of each bodily exercise, so we had mountain bikes, surfboards, frisbees, footballs — even gloves and a baseball, so the son and I might have a sport of catch by the river.

With the mesmerizing hum of the stream 20 yards from our website on the Fernwood Campground and Resort, we ended up doing far more rock skipping and toe dipping than ball or frisbee tossing. That felt proper, with leisure the correct name to stability out RV troubleshooting.

Leveling the rig in order that it doesn’t really feel such as you’re tenting on the Thriller Spot is a vital first step. My son and I attempted our greatest to determine the correct plastic pyramid calculus for our spot, edging the entrance wheels onto the levelers, however we rapidly settled on semi-level somewhat than persevering with to tinker with an equation we’d by no means totally clear up.

This RV had comfy sleeping set-ups for 4 adults, and all of the kitchen facilities you can need: fridge, freezer, range, oven, microwave, totally stocked cabinets with glasses and plates (ah, sure these!). There was additionally a totally useful bathe and loo, however a household vote vowed for minimal use to avoid wasting the trouble of determining that treacherous activity on the finish.

In fact, it was night time one when somebody needed to pee and didn’t wish to exit the nice and cozy, barely slanting cocoon — even when the surprisingly clear campground lavatory was solely steps away alongside a well-lit path. Oh nicely. We have been already going to should take care of the grey water discharge from heavy kitchen-sink use and an occasional bathe. It wouldn’t be a real RV take a look at with out the dastardly black water, I suppose.

We seen the following morning that among the electronics — together with the oh-so-crucial machine chargers — weren’t working the primary night time. Seems we had simply been utilizing the auxiliary energy. After a textual content alternate with the useful proprietor, I appeared on the website’s energy field, the place I had plugged within the RV once we arrived. Seems it actually helps if you happen to swap the ability to ON on the field.


* * *

It wasn’t all a harsh trial by fireplace. There was high quality household time that appeared extra relaxed than common for tenting.

It was simpler to make an escape from campfire smoke. Making lunches for the day’s hike appeared extra civilized within the kitchen, somewhat than working from a picnic desk and soggy cooler. Boiling corn on the RV range to accompany the fire-broiled burgers was simple, and making pancakes, eggs and bacon in a single contained house saved steps and annoyance.

By holding our sneakers outdoors and using the broom by the door, we largely saved dust at bay. That’s not one thing we’re used to as campers.

Most significantly, there was house to maneuver about, in addition to cozy nooks the place the spouse and children might hunker in and really feel as if they have been of their regular pleased locations at house. Most of the 2 full days we have been there, it was laborious to pry them out of these homey nooks. Hikes had a troublesome time competing with naps.

About that spaciousness: It’s all within the slide. You be sure the coast is evident on that facet of the car (no bushes or people inside three ft), press a lever and immediately flip your cramped little studio condo right into a breathable two-bedroom. You’ve gotta see it to imagine it. Pure magic.

What wasn’t so magic: Sure, that precarious ending.

The rig was cleaned up neatly, we have been all loaded up and able to head again. However I’d saved the not-so-best activity for final: wastewater disposal.

By some means, I managed to recruit my son to assist — a choice that may certainly go away him eternally scarred.

We drove our new favourite house on wheels throughout the campsite bridge and navigated towards a roundabout resulting in the dump station. I knew the dust path was a bit untamed, so I used to be going slowly. Or so I assumed.

Not almost gradual sufficient for the cavernous, six-foot-wide pothole I didn’t discover till we have been bounding by way of it.

Crash, bang, increase.

The magnetic locking gadgets on the higher cupboards, nice to that time, couldn’t take this jolt. Dishes and pint glasses got here flying out, touchdown on the hardwood flooring 5 ft under. It felt like we’d entered the scene from an motion film the place a dashing automobile finally ends up inside a storefront window.

Fortunately, the plates have been aluminum. And regardless of the violent racket, solely two glasses had damaged.

Each of us frazzled nonetheless, my son took on the glass sweep-up duties whereas I launched into the stinkier job that awaited outdoors, one I clearly had not learn up on sufficient beforehand.

Let’s simply say that realizing which line you’re coping with — grey or black — and ensuring the connectors in your hose are firmly functioning are essential steps earlier than letting these liquids free.

I bought tremendous fortunate. It was solely the grey dishwater that went awry, streaming throughout the bottom, nonetheless far too near another person’s camp for consolation. Essential lesson realized earlier than coping with the nastier components. And fortuitously, that disposal went extra to correct type.

So many classes realized on this bucket-list journey. However if you happen to labored out the kinks, I suppose this might be referred to as glamping. Time to plan a followup journey and put these classes to make use of earlier than they’re all forgotten.


Discover the best rig: Too small is healthier than too large, newer is healthier than older, and an proprietor/supervisor with stable opinions and who communicates nicely is important. Make sure that the RV is stocked with kitchen necessities. And slides rule!

Research the fundamentals: Go on YouTube and do some RV beginner viewing. Understanding the fundamentals {of electrical}, propane, generator and sewage programs will come in useful. However don’t get too confused. Like most issues in life, doing them is the way you study finest.

Attempt to keep shut: The less the miles, the cheaper the journey — and the extra prudent. Determining the “house” a part of the motor house is sufficient to fear about, with out stepping into any motor points.

Don’t plan to drive it: Park it, degree it and make it house for so long as you may. If you’ll need to drive for ice, meals and different rations, attempt to convey an additional car.

Potty elsewhere: Should you can, it makes good sense to not take care of this one the primary go-around.