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An RV Newbie, a Short Story About Watching a Newbie Preparing to Travel

Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life and he shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.

My first Rig

My first motorhome was a 1996 Pace Arrow Vision. It was a great first motorhome that I learned a lot of things about owning an RV.

My first motorhome was a 1996 Pace Arrow Vision. It was a great first motorhome that I learned a lot of things about owning an RV.

Just a Senior Citizen Driving their Big Rig

It was a typical campground morning. My wife and I had gotten up, and were sitting in our RV drinking our first cup of morning Coffee.

We were in a small, but nice campground off of US-95 in the southern part of South Carolina called The Oaks. We had pulled out of Orlando the day before, and we stayed over here, for the first time, mainly because it was exactly 6-hours of drive time to get to this particular campground.

You see, everyone is different, but, I have learned that 6-hours on an interstate, in a Diesel Pusher, towing a Jeep, is right at my personal limit of endurance, and patience with other highway drivers.

And of course there is the fact that, after driving a big Rig so long on the road, my mental sharpness is admittedly not what it was when I first pulled out.

Dons RV Info BOOK

A Newbie and a Check-List

Anyway, we had a late dinner when we arrived and then we had slept late, so we were in the process of getting our bodies and minds going, when I opened the day/night shades, and saw that our neighbor was up and about, tinkering with his "Fiver".

He had pulled in right at dark the night before, and it looked like he was getting ready to pull right back out again.

I poured myself another cup of coffee and as I watched, it looked like he was going through some kind of "ckeck-list"; as he was carrying around a clipboard with a stack of papers on it.

Now, all of us more seasoned RV owners know that checklists are a valuable thing that pretty much everyone I know uses in some form or another.

My wife and I have been doing our "RV thing" for several decades and I still use my favorite checklists for such things as;

Winterization, Un-Winterizing, RV Storage in warm and cold weather, short term RV storage, setting up at a campground, preparing to leave a campground, on the road checks when at a rest stop, after fueling, etc. etc. etc.

So at first glance, whatever my neighbor was doing out there was a good thing, from my perspective.

But, as I watched, I noticed that he was taking the phrase "be thorough" to a new level.

He initially had my attention when I saw that he was removing each running light bulb, wiping them down, and replacing them. Then he had his wife, in their truck turning each section on, while he tapped on the lens, and saw that they were working good.

After that, he pulled out a gauge, and checked each tire's air pressure, and then wrote the reading down on his paper.before he moved on to the next.

He opened each storage compartment, and I saw in one that there were tie-down straps laced over the stuff inside the compartments. Nothing was going to shift around while he was going down the road.

He even messed around with the Hitch after connecting his Rig to his truck for over ten minutes. I don't have a clue what he did for that long, but obviously something concerned him.

By this time, I was on my third cup of coffee, and he had my uninterrupted attention.

My neighbor had by this time, gone to the other side of his camper, and I saw nothing for about a half an hour, so I supposed that he was getting the inside of his Rig ready for travel.

The only thing that I did not see him do, is go up onto the roof of the Rig, I thought to myself as I got involved in checking my email.

I looked up about another half an hour later, and I saw that he was finally pulling his Rig out, with his wife standing on one side, and his daughter standing on the other.

It was obvious that they had specific directions of what to do and what hand signals to use to guide him safely out of his campsite.

So he pulled out, and then?

Well, he stopped in the middle of the street, got out of the truck, and walked back to the campsite and did a "walk around" checking that he had not left anything at the site, I assume.

He did another walk around of the Rig, Truck, compartments, and the hitch, before he had his wife get into the driver's seat, and they went through another light checkout procedure.

This took about five more minutes, and finally, they got into the truck and left the campground.

I was smiling to myself, when I looked closer, and suddenly, everything made sense to me. He had a Thirty Day tag on the "Fiver". And, looking back at the Rig? Well, It was obviously brand new. Shiny, unscratched, unstained, New!

He was a Newbie, and he had read all of the books, and was doing everything he could to be the best RVer in the world.

The Reality of RV Problems

Now, don't get me wrong, all of us RV owners go through that "this is new to me" phase, where we really try to do everything possible to take care of our Rig, on the road and off.

The sad reality is that too many RVers, over time begin to neglect going through the necessary checks to assure that they have a safe Rig, before they go on a trip. And too many of these RVers end up broken down on the side of the road, or in a campground.

And, as I mentioned already, I have my own checklists that I use year round with my Rig.

Of course, over the years, as I owned different Rigs, of different sizes, with different accessories and equipments, I have modified these personal checklists, as needed.

So, the real question that every RVer has to ask himself is; Do I have a perfect memory? Or, do I need to make a list to assure my travels are safe and problem free.

What a lot of new RVers do not understand, is that your RV is essentially a house on wheels.

It hits potholes, it runs over debris on the road, it shakes, it vibrates, it spends time in cold and hot weather, and all of that stuff inside and on it have a tendency to not take such treatment well, over time.

Oh, they are designed to withstand some punishment, but in reality, they are not designed for the levels they have to go through, at times, on the road. And honestly, we couldn't affor them, if they were.

I hope this newbie keeps his attention on his Rig, and keeps modifying his checklists accordingly.

If he does, he will be a better and happier camper over time.

But, some of th things he did, really are a level of overkill, after just an overnight stay.

For instance, checking the air pressure in your tires is a good thing. That should be done before any trip, and regularly after that.

I check mine after sitting for a week or more in a campsite, or before pulling out, but not on an overnight stay.

I will pull out onto hard surface and take a long look at the profile of each tire to assure that they look like they have adequate air pressure, but I do not use an air gauge every day, on every tire.

I also check that my lights work before a trip, and when pulling out of a campsite. I do not pull the bulbs and clean them. If they work OK when I do my ckecklist for pulling out, then good.

I assume that these and the other, what I would call "overly enthusiastic" things that the Newbie went through will evolve into his own, personal and effective and efficient list of key items that give him confidence that he will enoy his travels.

And that is what really counts, anyway, isn't it?

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Buying your first RV

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

shelby on March 14, 2011:

Paul is right - nothing IS ever perfect, and if this helps you get your "Juices" going again, HOORAY!!!!

By the way, what is Junior Rose up to these days? Can't wait to learn more about him and his "travels."

shelby

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on March 14, 2011:

Paul, it is really great to hear from you again. I hope all is well.

I do have a large and totally disorganized collection of pictures from across the deserts of the US, and I shall gird myself with Beer and Wine in a few weeks, and start to share them with everyone.

And, I have a large backlog of experiences that I need to write down shortly also.

PS. I look forward to more of your great photography!

paulgc on March 14, 2011:

Hello Don,

regardless of your assumptions i enjoyed your hub and dont really care if it's not literally perfect, after all, nothing in life is perfect.

What really matters is that you have taken the time to write and in so doing you have written an intriguing article of which i enjoyed immensely so thank you for that.

I look forward to reading more about your travels Don as i am a very keen armchair tourist.

As i sit here in the bedroom of an end terraced, market town home, i can think of many reasons why i would love to be where you are right now. Do continue writing your accounts Don even if a few mistakes creep in from time to time.

Thanks for sharing.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on March 14, 2011:

Shel! You are absolutely right, I can see, as I read back over the Hub, numerous problems.

I have really neglected my writing, while traveling, except for my photography, my supposed novel and other books. Sigh!

So, I decided that I needed to get my writing juices flowing and slather them over everything that I could.

One of the great things about this Hub world is that I can easily get "Back in the Game" so to speak.

Thanks for the clear vision from another perspective!

Luv Ya!

shelby on March 14, 2011:

Don, at first appearance, this man would seem new to this game, but how can you be sure, really sure? What exactly is a "fiver"?

English lesson in writing argument articles: Avoid assumptions, which this is a classic example of. You have assumed that because he was using a thiry day tag, and the RV was shiny clean, and he was indulging somewhat in "over-kill" in his pull-out inspection, that he and the RV were "newbies". You are probably correct, but maybe not. Maybe he was just a tad anal in all things in his life. I know people just like him that make you want to scream just watching how meticulous they are with EVERYTHING. And perhaps this is indeed the first RV this man and his family have ever had or ever will have, unlike youself as you said in this article, who have owned several rigs over, how many years? Argument essays/articles are like a puzzle, and I know you did not set out to write an argument essay, usually no one does. You seem to be saying that on one hand he is somewhat of a foolish jerk for wiping those bulbs and then essentially you say "it is better to be safe than sorry", which would be the way I would see everyuthing that he did. He had his wife and daughter with him - how young was the daughter, roughly? - to protect. You even use the word "assume" in your next to last paragraph, when in reality he could have been on the road years before you ever stepped foot into a RV. Right?

Also this can be called a deducive argument and the conclusion should be valid which this one is not. You are not sure what you really feel about this man's actions in preparing for his pull-out, but you end by saying he will no doubt evolve in his ways of being an RV'r and enjoy his travels over time. I seldom give convincing arguments either in writing or orally because I am always so conflicted in my thinking, and believe most people to be this way But, as always, keep writing for all-in-all you do it good. This was good from the stand point that it read from the beginning like a mystery. I kept wondering what you were finally going to see, or find out from your perch at the window. Held my interest throughout.

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