We are learning a lot as we go along. Some things we are just getting better at with practice (like packing up), and some things we are learning the hard way! In addition to our first time dumping tanks, forgetting to refill water and having to do it with a big jug and a funnel, and first time conquering a steep mountain pass, here are some of the other firsts and things we have learned.
I drove the RV… briefly.
So this one is the most amusing for all of you and embarrassing for me. I’m sharing it because I love you, so don’t give me too hard of a time. I had managed to get away with not driving the RV at all until our long leg between Salida, CO and Victor, ID. I’d never driven such a big vehicle before, and it scared me, so I put off practicing (I know, I know). So we chose what we thought was a pretty mellow section of the drive (Salida to Leadville) for me to tackle, with Nik for coaching and moral support.
The morning of our drive, I set about conquering my fears. The tricky thing through, is that the 1989 steering is on the loose side. I could NOT keep the thing going in a straight line for the life of me.
A little outside Buena Vista (which is like, 20 minutes from where we started) flashing red and blue lights pulled up behind me. ><
I apparently looked like a deer in the headlights, because the officer just felt sorry for me. He didn’t give me a ticket, but did make Nik take over driving. That was fine by me. I rocked the co-pilot job!
We are ordering a part that should make the steering better. Fingers crossed.
Rice needs to be stored CAREFULLY.
We had been storing these pop-top containers of rice and spaghetti in an overhead cabinet. But, as I’m sure you can guess with the benefit of my hindsight, things shift around during travel and that isn’t really the best spot. After we arrived in Victor, ID, I opened that cabinet. Out tumbled the container of rice. I tried to catch it, but instead all I did was press the button on top. So now there is about a pound and a half of white rice pouring all over the place. Not to mention that the place it fell was already the messiest and most crevice-filled spot in the whole RV. -.-
The rice lives somewhere more secure now.
There are lots of little parts in an RV, so a part of most days is devoted to maintenance of some kind of another. Most recently, the sensor that tells us how full our gray water tank is got stuck at 3/4 (so it says it’s nearly full even when we have just emptied it). As opposed to a house, often these are small, relatively easy fixes, which is nice. I’m also getting more comfortable being handy and figuring out how to fix issues like that. I have more flexibility with my time, and when Nik isn’t working we like to be able to explore, so I’m starting to take on more of the “fix broken things” job, which is new and different. Relatedly, I can now do the entire hookup process for towing the car on my own.
We are adopting other people’s friends and/or random strangers as our friends for short periods of time.
As I wrote about before, we knew we would have to get a bit more creative with being social on the road. So far, we have known people along the way (obviously, Kathleen and Mike in Salida, but also my friend Laura Keeler who I went to South Africa with lives in Victor) that we can hang out with. We have also started to be more comfortable seeking out social situations. Nik went to a kayak race put on by the Jackson Hole Kayak Club (and took 3rd!!) and hung out with the boater community there. I made friends on the race shuttle bus with some ladies from Denver. One night we visited Grand Teton Brewery and shared a few rounds with some locals, which was lots of fun. Laura and her friends graciously invited us to an amazing brunch yesterday (bacon and sparkling rosé is a wonderful combination).
It works well to unhook the car and use it as a “scout” when looking for campsites or exploring places the RV might get stuck.
We learned this one the hard way. We found some awesome free camping on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land outside Pinedale, Wyoming, where we stopped overnight between Salida and Victor, ID/Grand Teton area. We rolled in at 10 PM or so and found all these great sites by the river! The problem was, the first area we went into had all the spots taken. We couldn’t turn around with the car we were towing attached, so we had to detach it before we could turn around and go back. 😛 Once we had the car detached, we broke out the Walkie-Talkies and I went down roads in the car to figure out a good spot before Nik followed behind.
Wear and tear on the “house” during travel is more about road quality, not road quantity.
Since leaving Salida, we have driven about 18-19 hours (!). Our next few weeks won’t be as break-neck, which we are looking forward to. One interesting thing, though, is that of all that driving, the 6 mile gravel road to our current site put more wear and tear on the “house” than the rest of the travel time combined. The road was really washboarded and in need of a good grading, so everything inside was shaking like a crazy earthquake while we drove along. All the vibration vibrated loose a few screws, knocked a frame off the wall, and sent my jewelry drawers sliding (despite what I thought was careful securing). See previous section on “things break…”
At any rate, we are starting to settle into more of a rhythm and are learning more about what we like (being in the middle of nowhere) and what we don’t (looking at other RVs) when it comes to picking sites. We are getting there!