It’s May and RV’s are cruising the highways in search of adventure, nature, and camps with pull-through spaces and on-site laundry facilities.  Some of the events described below are real; some are fictional (but entirely possible).  I’ll let you guess which are which.
This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on RV-ing called House on Wheels.


The seller handed us two huge rings of keys and a tattered briefcase.  “All the papers are here,” she said.  “I wish I could help you more, but
my husband – God rest his soul – always took care of things when we traveled.”  With that, we became the proud but clueless parents of a bouncing baby motorhome.  We figured we would learn as we go, and before we’d traveled a hundred yards, we learned that low-hanging branches can wreak havoc on a rooftop air conditioner.  At the gas station, we discovered that filling up the tank takes twenty minutes, fifty-five gallons, and a 9-1-1 call when you see the total and suffer a heart attack.  Heck, by the time we got home, we were practically experts.  So we reserved a campsite and started packing.  Though no lock was left unturned, half the keys remained a mystery.  Important-looking items like batteries, lumber, hoses, and thick electrical cords hogged every outside compartment, so I stashed the lawn chairs and Dog Chow in the mini-shower, certain the water heater’s generous
six-gallon capacity would deter anyone from actually using it.  I added the bare essentials—the coffee pot, a package of RV-safe toilet paper (engineered to begin dissolving the second you touch it), and a can of bug spray—and off we went.

Lessons continued on the road…  Thou shalt not reverse without a spotter; it is the number one cause of RV accidents.  (Reversing with a spotter is, incidentally, number two.)  Be aware that mirrors, bike racks, and roof vents stick out a foot farther than they appear to.  Avoid toll roads, where “highway robbery” takes on new meaning.  If you do not know what a switch is for, never flip it while you are in motion; some do harmless things like disable the carbon monoxide detector while others extend the patio awning and initiate lift-off.  That said, a solid roadside assistance plan is worth every penny and tow truck guys are great; they winch you out of impossibly stupid jams and never say, “Holy Moses! How did that happen?”

On site, seasoned campers are quick to take newbies under their wing.  One grizzled guru watched as we backed up and pulled forward seven-teen times into our assigned space, then introduced himself.  “Keep her on the blacktop,” he warned, “or you’ll wear a rut in your lawn.”  The following day, a plaid-clad neighbor sprinted over and yanked a bottle of lighter fluid from my hands.  “Whoa!” he hollered, “What are your leveling boards doing in your fire ring?” Aha!  No wonder we kept rolling out of bed!  “Stash your dirty laundry in the oven,” offered a third.  “It’s pet-proof and holds exactly a load.  Who in the hell bakes on a camping trip, anyway?”  I did some quick mental addition… including those three little gems, I’d collected enough pearls of wisdom to earn my RV merit badge.  Secret handshake, I thought excitedly, here I come.

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8 thoughts on “RV-ING FOR BEGINNERS

  1. Tippy Gnu May 8, 2016 / 9:30 am

    Thanks for the laugh this morning. This article, and the ones lumbering down the road, will only further solidify my stark opposition to owning a motor home. It seems to me like it’s a lot easier and less expensive to drive a sedan and rent a motel room. And probably more comfortable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marissa Bergen May 8, 2016 / 10:29 am

    Those things sure are convenient but I shudder to think of myself driving one. Can’t wait for part 2.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. chevvy8 May 8, 2016 / 4:43 pm

    You’re a great storyteller Joan. I can’t say I’m a happy camper – I still like the home comforts when I travel. But with all the useful dos and don’ts in this story I’m wondering if I’ll be inclined to accept our friend’s invitation to go camping with them,. I’ll definitely look out for the next instalment:-)


  4. sharon May 10, 2016 / 10:36 am

    is there a book or resource someone could recommend before starting to RV that might help avoid some mistakes?? Thanks!


  5. circumstance227 May 14, 2016 / 5:15 pm

    I’ll be taking notes in this series. It’s never too early to start preparing for the retirement years! Unfortunately – camping grounds over here tend to suck – tents and RV’s all crammed together side by side. You might as well be camping in a Walmart parking lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. judyrutrider September 28, 2018 / 12:36 pm

    Thanks for the link to this post! As soon as I wipe the tears from my eyes, I’ll forward the link to my sister so she can giggle herself silly too. You’ve made me doubly glad to have started small. I always repeat the mantra, “Keep it simple, stupid” when diving into something new. I’m off to Lone Pine for my maiden voyage after two weeks of prep. I can’t possibly have forgotten anything 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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