Road Trip Adventure 2013: Floods, RV and rolling with the punches

Well, I’m off… or at least I’ve been off for the last 10 hours or so. I am off on a “Cross Country RV Adventure”. I still have the “cross” and have seen a ton of “country”, but there’s something missing. That missing thing from my “Cross Country RV Adventure” is… AN RV! That’s right… no RV. “What happened?” you might ask. Well, let me tell you…

I have been preparing for the last three months for a cross country RV trip. I have bought and read (OK… skimmed) over a dozen books on RVing (Check out some of them from a previous post here). I have worked on my RV, prepared it inside on out, stocked it, packed it, practiced in it and done about everything else a man could do in preparation for the trip. Then, two days before we were going to leave, my wife calls me and said, “The RV Stinks!”

Now, I thought that she had just grown to really dislike the RV and was expressing her internal emotional attachment to the thing my kids like to call “The Big Rolling Terd” (thank you Robin Williams and the movie RV), but it was literally a stench that was emanating from the RV. My first thought… an animal crawled in that thing and died! I went home prepared to locate the critter, dispose of his furry dead body and squirt the area down with Lysol. The only problem is that there was no rodent. I searched and searched. The stench stayed, but there were no stiff, furry creatures causing it. I got down on my hands and knees and that is when I felt it.

Splash!

My hand dropped onto the floor which had now become a puddle. I moved it over to the carpeted area next to it and discovered that it was soaking wet. There was a 2 inch wading pool resting on the linoleum and a drenched carpet that were working together to funkify my RV.

At this point, you have to know a little bit about me. I’m not mechanical man. I’m not Mr. Fix It. Sure, I can do stuff, but it takes me a while and I only had 48 hours before I was going to have to embark on this cross country trip. I wanted to wiggle my nose and make it all better. (I did try this “I Dream of Jeanie” style, but nothing happened. It made me smile, but that’s about it.) So, I did what any good guy does when he doesn’t know what to do. I put it off and said that I’d make a decision tomorrow – one day before I’m supposed to leave.

I don’t know what I was thinking. Maybe that God would show up in a dream and tell me what to do like he did for Joseph. Or, maybe he would send an angel and we could wrestle around like Jacob did and I’d get the answer to my question and a cool new walk like Jacob (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the story here. It’s pretty sweet!) But, instead I get no dream and no new swagger… I just wake up with no answers and still clueless about what to do. So, I say a simple prayer. “God, I am going to walk out into that RV and I want you to give me an answer.”

I walked outside, I opened the door, I smelled the stench, I walked to the area that I dried up the day prior and I saw a 1/2 inch of water waiting for me. In that moment the Lord spoke… “Rent a car, Greg. Change your plans, Greg. Take all the books and the training and the expectations that you had, throw them in the toilet, flush them down and follow my lead.”

It wasn’t easy… but I did it. And, so far… so good.

Maybe that’s the lesson for today. Maybe we need to plan and have our ideas and try to do the best that we can with what we have, but be willing to flush them down the toilet when we are asked to. I could have been mad or upset or frustrated, but instead I choose to simply roll with the punches. I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring, but I trust that it will be good and exciting… and part of His story in my life.

I preach a message about open hands all the time. I say that we are to hold all the aspects of our lives up before God with open hands. We say to Him, “Take what you will. Give me what you want. And, with whatever is in my hands, I will do my best with it.” As I lay here in Las Cruces, New Mexico, that is what I choose to do. I have my family. I have my God. I have a pillow under my head and a calling in my heart. I guess I’m doing OK. Maybe His plans really are the best for our lives!

Stay tuned…

GP

Advertisements

Top 5 RV Books to Buy and Learn From

OK, there’s a million different books out there to choose from when it comes to RVing. Which one is best for you? Well, you can do what I did and buy every one that pops up on your Amazon search. Or, just pick these 5 and  save yourself a ton of time and energy. I hope they help you as much as they helped us!

RV Book #5: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to RVing 3rd Edition

If you are anything like I was, you are a Complete Idiot when it comes to RVing. I didn’t know anything about it and welcomed a book that pulled no punches and took it from the most basic level. This book is the updated 2012 version and is as practical as it is relevant. Well worth the investment.

Buy it here.

RV Book #4:  The RVer’s Bible: Everything You Need to Know about Choosing, Using and Enjoying Your RV

This was a great book that helped me all the way through the process. It was in this book that I learned the differences between a Class A, B and C RV and the difference between a motorhome and a motorcoach. (If you don’t know, I won’t spoil it for you. I’ll simply let the suspense build). There is even a section for someone with physical challenges and how to work through those in your RV. Good Book!

Buy it here.

RV Book #3: The Complete Book of Boondock RVing: Camping off the Beaten Path

This is definately a niche book… but an AWESOME way to live. If you don’t know what “Boondock” means without the word “Saints” behind it, then let me tell you that it means living in the middle of nowhere. No plugs. No sewage. No nothing, except you and the awesomeness of nature surrounding you. If you are in to that thing, let your Henry David Thoreau come out and nestle next to Walden Pond. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, get the book for free from Kindle and get ready to hear a ton of words!)

Buy it here.

RV Book #2: How to Live in a Car, Van or RV – And Get Out of Debt, Travel and Find True Freedom

I added this one for two simple reasons. First, I wanted to do a shameless plug of wanting to live “in a van down by the river” (RIP Chris Farley). The second reason is more about you than me. The book is currently only $2.99 through Kindle and a great way to dive in for cheap. So, if you want to get started learning today and didn’t want to wait for the postman, pick this book up. It’s a little over 100 pages and an easy read.

Buy it here. 

RV Book #1: Adventure’s on America’s Public Lands

One of the most overlooked gems is the beauty and inexpensiveness of RVing on America’s Public Lands. There are places all over this country where you can RV for free to very low prices in comparison to the big RV parks across the country. This book spans over 27 states and has full color photos. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and I bet you will too!

Buy it here. 

I hope that helps. If you know of another great resource, link to it below. I’d love to check out some new books and sites as I continue to learn about the joys and beauties of RVing.

Happy Trails!

GP

Gassing Up the RV: Good Sites to Help with the Cost

We all know that gas is getting more and more expensive each and every day. When you are driving a vehicle that gets 5-10 miles to the gallon, it is downright painful!

This is what I’ve recently found out as I watched the gas gauge go down every time I pushed down the gas pedal of my RV. The great news is that there are some amazing resources available for you. Check these sites out to help with the cost.

GasBuddy.com: I absolutely LOVE this site. I use it to factor out my entire trip. I can put my starting location, all the stops and then the return trip and it will tell me the cost of the entire trip cost. It is a great site and well worth your time.

TruckStopGuide.com: After my first try pulling into a regular gas station, I knew that there was NO WAY that my 36′ unit and towed car was going to fit. From that moment on, I decided to only use truck stops. With this site, I was easily able to find all the truck stops on my journey. Plan ahead and you’ll be a lot happier with your trip.

FuelEconomy.gov: Well, if you can’t beat them, you might as well understand fuel economy better. The government has a site for you that has everything from fuel economy tips to side by side comparisons. Worth your time if you have some time to waste. If you’re driving an RV… it ain’t going to be good!

😉

Happy Trails!

GP

Lessons from the RV Tow Dolly

On our initial RV Trip, we chose to use a RV Tow Dolly. You may have seen a car being dragged with all four wheels touching the ground… this is NOT a tow dolly. When you use a tow dolly, just the back wheels are being dragged. The tow dolly looks like this…

It’s a little intimidating to tow something. My RV is 36 feet long and then you add a whole car length plus a few feet. This makes for a REALLY long ride. Here are a few quick lessons that I’ve learned from my first tow dolly experience.

As much sense as it make to run your hazard lights on the vehicle you’re towing, DON’T DO IT! I made this mistake thinking, “How much battery could possibly be used by those little flashing lights?” The answer is A LOT! After a six (plus) hour drive with the hazard lights running, I went to back the car off the tow dolly. I turned the key to hear the infamous ‘click, click, click’. That’s right… dead battery. Don’t run those hazard lights… it’s not worth it.

Make sure the lights are working and invest in some extra lights too. When I first hooked up this tow dolly, the lights didn’t work. After a visit with my electrician friend, we were good to go. The one thing that I wished I had was a little extra light. They sell lights that can magnetically stick to the car that you’re towing. They look like this…

I think that I’ll be picking some of these up before we start the cross country trip. If you’re planning on any serious towing, I would suggest picking some extra lights up and sticking them to your car. 

Check and double check the tow straps. I talked about this yesterday, but can’t stress how important this is. Every time I checked the straps, they were looser than when we started. This is normal because of the motion of the trip, but one that could end up catastrophic if you don’t check them out. Tighten these babies up each and every time you stop.

Even though it is a little more work to use the tow dolly, it is well worth it. After driving the six hours, it was so great to hop in my car (after I had to have my new RV neighbor jump it. How’s that for a first impression!) and drive. Take the extra time to learn the car dolly and appreciate the freedom that comes from bringing a car.

Till next time,

GP

First Day RVing… Incredible and Terrifying!

Well, today was the maiden voyage for my family and the RV! Hitting the open road has been an incredible, terrifying, and eye opening experience. The trip… Wickenburg, Arizona to Lake Jennings, California looked a little like this…

This trip took us on about 350 miles of sheer delight and terror all at the same time. I will highlight some of the things that I’ve learned so far…

RVs are affected by wind… BIG TIME! Whether it’s a big rig passing you or a cross wind coming around a mountain, RVs are kicked around by the wind. The worst, however, was a “dust devil” in AZ that caused the RV to veer off over the center line. It made my heart jump to my throat, but was a great learning experience to keep my cool no matter what.

Don’t wait to fill up the gas tank. We started with a full tank, but that doesn’t last long. At a quarter tank, I started looking for a gas station. This didn’t come and the tank kept going down. With six gallons left in the tank, we pulled into a truck stop. The gauge was beyond red and I was sweating bullets! Get one of these to alleviate the stress.

Truck Stops over Regular Gas Stations. I tried to pull into a regular gas station and this was a big mistake. I turned around the first pump and found that I couldn’t cut it. The next thing I knew, I was scraping the side against a pole. I kicked her in reverse and pulled out of the station because there was NO WAY that we were going to make it into this spot. I have decided to choose truck stops every time! To track your truck stops on the next journey… check this site out.

Hell’s Canyon. On this trip, there is an area close to a place called Jacumba that I have affectionately titled “Hell’s Canyon”. Why? Well, because you travel from Sea Level to 4,000 feet above sea level. Normally, this may not be a big deal, but in an RV… it’s a BIG deal. This means that I was traveling at the peak speed of 30 mph with the pedal all the way down. Cars passing by and me praying to God that I simply make it to the top of the hill so that I can gain some speed on the way down. We finally made it to the other side and with a bruised ego and a throbbing calf muscle, I couldn’t have been happier!

Check the tow straps often. I have a tow dolly for my RV and am pulling a Buick LeSabre with tow straps around the tires. This is a tow strap…

 

Being my first trip, I was very careful about continually checking the straps. I found out that the straps were always looser than when I started. I checked them often and would recommend that you do the same. If you need a good pair, get the kind with built in ratchet tightening like these ->Tow Straps

Don’t forsake GPS! I am still working on figuring out the best GPS program, but on this trip I used the Google Earth app. I chose this over the standard Navigation app on my Iphone because I really like the interface. It worked 100% of the time, gave me up to the moment information and left me really satisfied. I may try the $0.99 MotionX GPS download on the way back and compare.  I’ll let you know in a future post.

Well, that’s enough for now. I’m off to watch the Robin Williams RV movie in my RV. I can relate now!

Have a great day and keep the adventures coming!

GP

Getting Power to Your RV: Understanding Adapters

You would think that this stuff would be easy to discover… but it’s not! How on earth do you get power to your RV? Sure, you plug it in, but to what and how? If you’ve ever wondered this question, then this is a simple blog post to get you going in the right direction.

1. Figure out what kind of power your RV has. Is it 50 amp or 30 amp? (The easiest way to tell is that there are four posts and holes for the 50 amp and three for the 30 amp)

2. The biggest that I’m aware of is the 50 amp… so let’s start there. You will plug into your RV using a 50 amp cord that probably looks a lot like this one:

 

3. Take that plug’s female side and plug it into your RV. If you are at an RV site or a place that has 50 amp power, plug the male side in, turn up the radio and enjoy! However, you may only have 30 amp service (3 holes). In this case, you will need an adapter like this one:

 

4. When you plug the male 50 amp into the female 50 amp adapter, you will be left with a 30 amp male. This means that if you have a 30 amp connection, it’s time to plug in and rock out. But, what if you have neither? Well, this is time for the good old normal extension cord plugged into a normal house plug and dragged out to the RV. This final adapter will look something like this:

 

5. Now you have the 50 amp plugged into a 30 amp that is plugged into a normal 15 amp house plug and… you guessed it… it’s time to turn that radio up and rock it out!

A word of caution: The greater the power, the more stuff you can run. For example, I can run both of my AC units on 50 amp and one unit on 30 amp and simply roll down my windows when I’m plugged into the house. Use wisdom and caution and enjoy! These things are supposed to be fun… not a pain in the butt! 

GP