What’s the First Travel Trailer Trip Like? My Maiden Voyage

The travel trailer virgins are learning this weekend. The last post covered training. We learned how things work. Got the hitch installed on the Yukon. Learned how that pesky electric brake thing worked. When we last wrote, the trailer was hooked up and Duane had said “you’re ready to go.” So, here’s how it went – –

Dave: “Good grief, it’s like I have this big opaque cloud following me.”

Fortunately, we had purchased the mirror extensions that stick out about four inches past the stock mirrors. The Amazon write-up assured us that this was the ticket for rearward visibility when towing a trailer. First, Dave needed to attach them to the stock mirrors. Not hard on the driver’s side at all, just push until the plastic housing clicked tight around the stock housing. Then tighten this wing nut thing to lock everything down. Gee, that was easy.

Now to the passenger side. It wouldn’t fit. Wouldn’t lock on. And Dave, not being completely stupid, had tried it when they arrived. He didn’t dare push harder or something would break. Take it off. Put it back. Still won’t fit. What the heck. Take it off. Ahhhhhhhhhh. The little piece that is arched to match the stock mirror has come loose. Put it back on the tab. Slip it over the stock mirror. Ahhhhh. Click. Click. There it is.

Up into the driver’s seat and check to see if they help. Nope. Adjust the driver’s side. Okay, that’s not too bad. Out and walk around (did I mention that it’s 96 degrees on Friday the 13th in that part of America where thin soup serves as air) to adjust the passenger side mirror. Walk back. Up in the seat. Nope. Repeat. SEVEN TIMES! Finally, it was at least acceptable although Dave isn’t sure of the value. Well, that’s not true, $38.21 from Amazon.

Now, let’s see if the Yukon will pull it. Push in the “Tow/Haul” button on the end of the gear shift level. What the heck does that button do anyway. (Dave note – looked it up. It adjusts how the transmission shifts, primarily.) The dealer guy told us to be careful and go around the lot so we could get onto the main drag at a stop light.

Deep breath.

Gear selector to D.

GULP!

Brake off.

Oh wow, it moves.

The first right turn. Very slowly. Watching front and right-side mirror, Dave is certain he’ll drag the side of the new rolling motel room on something. But no. It’s all right.

And now, over to the bride – – –

Pam:

So here we go to the RV camping park about 4 miles from home. Pam asks David “you do remember how to get there right?” Dave states “yes.” I tell him I will follow him in case he gets scared and pulls off the highway on the way there. He is doing pretty good I think. We make several turns and the Travel Trailer obediently follows the Yukon. We are on the short stretch to the RV Park. I am behind David saying, “turn right.”

Nope.

He goes straight. Sigh…. I call him on the cell phone “You missed your right turn onto highway W.”

Dave responds “Oh *@&*!@!!!! I did….”

“Yes. turn around and come back I am going on to the campground to check in.”

(Editorial note from Dave – turn around? With a half mile of trailer behind me?????)

I get all checked in and warn the office person my confused husband will be pulling in a TT behind a Yukon.

Yay! He makes to our assigned shady spot. He pulls straight in ignoring the fact that the hook ups are on the opposite side. I tell him go out and come back in the opposite of what you just did. So he goes back out into the park, drives the entire length of the campground because again he has missed his turn.

Alas.

He sees me jumping up and down and waving my arms like a lunatic and loops back around again.

Side note: My husband has no sense of direction.

Side note II: he did not use his Google maps to find the campground either.

The trailer all hooked up

The trailer all hooked up

Finally, we are here and ready for hook up. My first request “get the electric hooked up so we can get the TT cooled off”. Off he goes and gets the surge protector and electric cable and poof! the electric is ready to go. I go inside and turn the thermostat down to 60. I leave the TT as I logically think it will be much more difficult to level if a person is walking around in the camper.

So out I go to start pulling stuff from both vehicles to outfit the TT. It is sooooooo very hot. We are both red in the face and sweaty. But…. within 30 minutes we have the sewer and grey water hose hooked up, city water hooked up, cable/satellite hooked up. Leveling and chocking begins. I keep unloading waiting for further husband instructions.

He gets his cordless drill out, leveling blocks, chocks and 3-way level and boom! we are level. Now let’s go inside and get cooled off.

The trailer bedroom

The trailer bedroom

Three Yukon and one CR-V loads later all the indoor outfitting items have made it into the Glamper. We are hot, we are hungry, we are pooped. We leave and go get a couple of subs, cold drinks and to get the mini schnauzers; Baxter and Oliver and back to the TT we go. I can’t seem to stop putting stuff away but alas by 11:00 at night I cannot think another storage thought. We have the HUGE 50-inch TV fired up, the dogs have beds, we manage to make our bed and we are still trying to suck down as much water as possible. By 11:30 we are pooped and head to our new bed in our new dream Camper. We are so tired that it may have felt like we were laying on bricks, but I frankly slept pretty darn good.

Saturday morning. Pam must travel 30 miles each way to see a client who was discharged from the hospital on Friday evening. Dave makes a run to get breakfast. Pam gets in the shower in the TT. It is nice semi circle shape, strong shower head flow, pretty rounded sliding glass doors but….. there is NO HOT WATER. So Pam has to take a shower with cool water.

The Schnauzers watching for Pam

The Schnauzers watching for Pam

It wasn’t too bad, but she knew Dave would never like it. He gets back, and she informs him he has to figure out why we don’t have running hot water, hands him the long lighter, and tells him where the instruction manuals are and out the door she goes to see her client.

I get back about two hours later and Dave is relaxing in the lovely recliner. Pam says, “so what was wrong with the water heater?”

Dave grins and says, “I had a lovely HOT shower.”

I said “really? So, what was wrong with it?”

Dave says “come over here to the CONTROL PANEL. See this switch that says water heater?”

I say “yes” and Dave says, “we forgot to turn it on.”

Duhhhh….. live and learn.

Decor makes it home

Day 3 Sunday. Pack up, take down and take the TT to its new indoor storage unit until 3 weeks when we have our next adventure. Dave proceeds to start the unhooking and draining of grey water and black water. Meanwhile, Pam is putting anything that may move in a safe place, bungee cording the cabinet doors should anything shift and throw itself into the floor. Rugs picked up and shook out, floors swept, frig emptied, laundry all gathered, countertops and sink wiped clean.

Out I go to watch Dave empty the grey and black water holding tanks. I am sitting on a neighboring picnic table (no one was parked there) with the pups on lead watching from about 15 feet away should anything go awry with the hoses….

Dave is following the steps I’ve read and what we have been taught. I’m amazed at how simple this really is. As I am sitting enjoying the show from afar I suddenly think “wow watching the emptying and rinsing of the black water tank is like prepping for a colonoscopy. Drink the prep until your poop runs clear. Same thing with the sewer system. When the poop line runs clear you got it done.

So there you go. We trained, we set up, we outfitted, we slept, we showered.

Pam put some of her decor (flamingos) up and then we packed up, drained, put away, hitched back up and made it to the storage unit. But wait! Dave gets lost finding the storage unit. I had even gone over directions of how to leave the RV park and get to the storage unit again. Finally, I get the pups home in the cool sticks and bricks house and on I go to the storage unit to lend directional support to the spouse. Dave backs our TT into the unit within a couple of tries and POOF! she is put to bed….

Final note from Dave –

What Pam didn’t tell you about my (stupidly) missing the turn is IT’S MIGHTY FRIKKIN’ HARD TO MAKE A U-TURN WITH 78 FEET OF TRAILER FOLLOWING YOU!

As soon as I missed the turn I knew I had blown it. So now what? When I had a PT Cruiser I could make a U-turn in the length of the little car. With a significant fraction of a mile of trailer behind me I had absolutely no idea what to do.

“Oh well,” thinks I, demonstrating a fatalism that comes with seven decades, “something will come along. And besides, might as well enjoy the trip and see how this thing tows.”

Dave had pulled a pop-up camper LO these many moons ago when he was a college student, and then again when kids were quarter midget racing. He had pulled an open 12-foot trailer when he had a small engine shop and a 12-foot box trailer when the kids were racing. But this! This was a whole new world.

The Yukon didn’t mind a bit. The gauges stayed right where they always run. When it was time to slow down or stop the electric trailer brakes did exactly what they were supposed to do and it didn’t feel like it was trying to push me to my death.

The biggest difference I noticed was that EVERY little bump in the road, and this was a two lane, reasonably well maintained, but only reasonably, blacktop state road and there were plenty of bumps, caused the trailer to bounce, said bounce transmitting directly to the hitch, the ball, the Yukon, and old Dave’s derriere. The first couple of miles were white knuckled and about half of my time was spent checking mirrors for errant trailers. But after I got used to the different feeling, it wasn’t bad.

Pam tells me I tended to crowd the middle of the road, but it didn’t feel any different to me, in those terms, than I normally drive. I suppose I was worried about a wheel dropping off of the edge and then dragging me and my beloved Yukon to a fiery death, but I tried not to dwell on that.

Eventually I came to an interchange with Interstate 55 (did we mention this is all happening in and around Cape Girardeau, Missouri?). The road intersecting the interstate is four lanes at that point, with an extra on ramp acceleration lane. The road I was on had a short four lane section where they met, giving the person wanting to turn right his own lane.

I figured this was my chance to make that U-turn I had been looking to make for, oh, about 80 miles (okay, more like 7 but you get the picture). I waited until I could see clear to the horizon both ways and ventured out.

It worked like a charm. Actually, between the Yukon and the 95 feet of trailer it only took about three and a half lanes to pull it off. I do think I drew some odd looks from the guy that came over the hill (a full quarter mile away so no danger really) and found a house in his way.

By the time I made the 7-mile return trip, got back to where I was supposed to be, well, Pam handled that above.

Final final note from Dave – the trailer shakes. More than I had expected. I had thought that when the chocks were in place and the stabilizer jacks were down it would be firm. It wasn’t. It shook. Heck, I think it shook when 15-pound Schnauzers ran through. As the tanks got water in them the added weight seemed to help.

I did my google research and found what seems to be the hot system. I emailed the company and shamelessly plugged this website and my own small part of it and told them if they would send me a sample of the system I’d be happy to install it and write it up. But, and it’s a big “but,” I made no promises about what I’d say. So, if they come through I’ll be getting a review out to y’all.

Okay, REALLY last note from Dave. Backing something this long is the same as backing something shorter, but any error is compounded HUGELY (as President Trump might say). Little movements of the wheel. I got the 7-and-a-half-foot wide trailer into the 10 foot wide storage unit okay, but it’s still a little crooked. The unhooking went as Duane had demonstrated even though I did beg the stabilizer bars to not break my wrists when I let the tension off of them. Oh, and I got the two little balls on telescoping rods and magnetic bases to help me line things up while hitching. Worked like a dream. About 10 bucks at Amazon and money WELL spent. And the $99 Ice Maker worked great too. Pam says shut up.

Poof!

I’m gone.

Until our next adventure in three weeks. See you then and this time we want to relax!

Leave a Comment