Our first RV experience was scary, exciting and unfortunately expensive. We had been planning on our retirement for years and we had decided to buy a 40′ Class A and see the country. On the first day of retirement we planned on a cross country trip from Southern California through Arizona and Colorado then northward to across the northern half of the US then spending a couple of months with relatives on the east coast and heading back to the west right after Thanksgiving.
We had bought the RV a couple of months earlier and although we had a couple of practice drives, my wife and I weren’t too experienced with a 40 footer. We packed the RV and were planning on a early departure. We pulled out of the storage lot at about 5 AM and immediately had a alarm go off . We pulled into a Wal-Mart to figure it out and we couldn’t. So plan B was to head to the local Camping World where we bought the rig and have them check it out. We were immediately looking at a 3 hour delay waiting for them to open.
As I pulled out of the parking lot and started up the street, I wasn’t familiar enough with the mirrors and even though I was going slow a car approached from the right and not being able to judge the distance well enough, I turned to the right lane and forced the car off the road. We circled back and checked out what we had caused. To our good fortune the young women had been able to avoid hitting us and although she was shaken up, then was no damage. Thank goodness.
We went to the Camping World parking lot and waited 3 hours for the store to open. When were finally able to get some attention we were embarrassed to find out that the alarm was the automatic wind speed sensor for the automatic awning retraction. Flip a small switch and we were on our way.
Our first leg was through Arizona and during one of the early rest stops I discovered that how I routed my emergency brake away cable was important. I made the mistake of routing the cable above the tow vehicle yoke and when I turned a sharp corner it caught on a release lever and pulled the emergency pin from my toad. I also discovered two other key things. First off when the company had installed my toad braking system, they installed the brake activation light on my dash in such a place that I have to lean forward to see it. So I didn’t see it!!!!!. I also learned that a Class A Diesel can pull a toad with it’s brakes locked with no problem. I pulled it for a couple of hundred miles and totally smoked the brakes, discs and drums to the tune of $1,100 and an extra day of rest in New Mexico.
The next couple of days I discovered how important it was to make sure that my Toad’s ignition key was in the right position to disengage the steering wheel lock. Upon pulling out of the campsite in Colorado a passing car signaled that our wheels weren’t turning. So a quick, and stressful stop on a freeway on ramp, followed by a couple of hours in a repair shop to check out the car lead to another late departure.
In Colorado I learned a lesson about looking around while exiting the freeway. We pulled off the freeway for a quick “dog walk” and as I approached a parking lot with trucks, I assumed that I could pass through the intersection and enter from the rear. To our surprise I found there was no rear entrance and because we were towing and couldn’t back up we discovered about 30 miles of 2 lane Colorado country road before we found a space large enough to turn a 40 ‘ rig. I learned to take the first entrance into any parking lot.
Our last and final eye opener occurred in South Dakota where I once again failed to get my toad ignition switch in the right position and when I stopped to check things out I found scalloped tires and oil from my diesel all over the toad. I bought a couple of new tires and made sure that when I installed the oil filler cap I to twisted it so it wouldn’t fall out.
After this first week things settled down a little and we started relaxing and decided that we hadn’t made a mistake.
That was 2 years ago and we’ve had some much fun we’ve decided to sell our house and full time it. This summer we’re hosting at Lake Tahoe and next year we might take the Trans Canada Hi-way to the east coast.
Submitted by Raymond Perreault of Lakeport, CA as a part of the RV Centennial Celebration “Share Your Favorite RV Memory” contest.
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