So did we have a good time?  Yes, we really did.  There were some bumps in the road and we learned things we couldn’t have known about pre-trip.

As mentioned in Part 1 – there was the electrical cord issue but there was more.  Here are some of the things I learned:

1) You may have to settle for less than 50 AMP service.  Breezewood Proving Grounds only had 30 Amp service.  On 30 Amps you can do just about anything you need, but you cannot run both of the trucks air conditioners.  We found this out the hard way,  of course trying to put it on.  My son was using the garage to get into his gear, instead of the small bathroom inside the truck — and it was hot — so he turned it on.  And blew the breaker!  Of course, the air conditioner in the garage wasn’t necessary to run — and so we learned that unless we do have a full 50 Amp service or the generator on… we better just run one at a time.

2) You may not have to use your generator.  It’s another choice we had with regard to the electrical power.  We could have run our generator for the garage air conditioner, and even used it for the refrigerator, and other things, but we instead did without it.  There will be times we will NEED to have it on…. for example, on longer trips because there is no air conditioning in the truck without the generator being on!

3) You can use Propane.  We used the propane for heating the water and running the refrigerator and freezer.  We also used the trucks propane for the grill, having bought the needed connections in advance.  This worked really well, the propane made hot water in no time flat for dishes, or showers and we never had to think about the refrigerator or freezer. I love that most of our essential items will run on either the propane, the generator – or the electrical hookup.

4) Figure out the shower in advance. I had to go outside and get hubby to show me how the shower worked.  It was funny till it wasn’t.  I nearly ripped off the shower knob — thinking it had to move one way or another to turn on the water.  Turns out the switch for that is in the handle of the shower head — I never would have found it, and he had a hard time finding it too.  Something to think about before you are in there … and can’t get it to work!

5) Don’t depend on the campgrounds Wi-Fi signal.   Breezewood has wi-fi — but it wasn’t sufficient for most phones, let alone our laptop or TV.   We did have a Rogue Wave and wireless router.  It advertises it can get you a signal for up to 7 miles – and we were able to “sporadically” hook up to Breezewoods’ signal —  I even deleted 30 emails before it cut me off.   The Rogue Wave might have to be — line of sight — to be at it’s best.  In any case, Breezewood is in a valley between two mountains and that might have been part of the reason we had issues.  It made us realize that we might not always be able to hook up to a wi-fi in our camping locations — use our phones and/or computer and that, like at Breezewood, we might just be able to have one TV channel to watch.

6) Bring Movie DVD’s  – We brought kids DVD’s but we totally forgot the adults.  This is one thing we are going to remember next time, especially if we can’t get a wi-fi signal to use — as we would have loved the option of a movie over the one TV program choice — The Stanley Cup Playoffs.

7) Make Lists  – Make a written checklist of everything you need to check before you go.  Each time till you get used to the routine, this will let you know if you forgot something.  While not unplugging is a big one… which we didn’t forget to do, we did go home with the key to the electrical box!  I called them and mailed it back the next day — but I am hoping that’s because we are still novices that we can remember to return everything before we leave next time!  Other lists to make are things you didn’t remember this time that would make the trip better next time (like DVD’s, more snacks and coffee creamer).

8) You may need to play Musical Beds – Never having slept in a camper we knew there might be adjustments we might have to make.  My husband and I snore. We had no clue how this would affect any of us.  Neither did we anticipate that I would not be able to sleep in a bunk – which was from part claustrophobia, and part heated conditions (not enough air flow into the bunk).  My son had no idea how “soft” the pull out sofa would be and that he would not be able to sleep on it.  So the first night a few of us changed places as the night went on.  Second night, we rearranged, and hubby and I loved the soft sofa bed and the kids loved the bunks – and they even said the snoring wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be.

 

 





 

We  were anxious to get going on our first trip — but we knew we had to do the repairs/reviewing and checking.  There is nothing less fun than getting out on the open road, headed for a cool place to camp and finding out something serious is wrong with the truck.  Especially for newbies like us!

At the least it’s a delay, at the worse it’s a trip killer.

So we worked as hard as we all could checking and rechecking things.  Making sure everything was in good working order on the truck was primary, but also we made lists of things we needed to bring with us for a comfortable trip.  Things like my tailgating grill, food, snacks, paper products – pillows, blankets, towels — you get the idea.  When you are first starting out with a motor home,  you just don’t have a feel for everything you might need!  I am thankful for a friend who does have a motor home,  and the time she spent letting me know about some very important items to make sure you have with you.   Some of those items included a first aid kit, bug spray, sun screen and loads of paper towels!

The first trip was just going to be to the Breezewood Proving Grounds. DSC05903 It’s located in Pennsylvania — and lets say about 100 or so miles away.  Breezewood is an ATV/Motorcycle park which allows you not only to ride around the grounds with your chosen mode of transportation, but also has 3 “race” tracks for you to ride on, a campground with and without plug ins and other amenities.

The first spot they assigned us to park in…  wasn’t working.  We couldn’t back in to hook up because we had to be able to get the Razor, and ATV’s out of the back garage — and we couldn’t pull in because we didn’t have a long enough electrical hookup cord.

DSC05895DSC05880

We learned from that, and was able  to park “sideways” in a different spot at this park, but made a note to get an additional electrical cord for our next adventure.

Additionally, a pull thru spot might also work for this huge truck — so it’s something we will look for in the future.

We didn’t take the “extra” trailer we have talked about taking to carry a car.  This trip we weren’t expecting to have to make any trips outside the park or to any other location — but there will be times we will need an extra vehicle.  We would have had to park the tow vehicle in another location – because even being sideways there would not have been enough space right behind our truck for it.

This park was relatively empty when we arrived and we were the only one in the RV lot – but as the weekend approached, so did the other campers.  We learned there are some who come by each weekend to ride, party and camp.  I am thankful even though they were close to us and we could hear the music, it was not overwhelming and did not stop us from going to bed early or “eventually” sleeping.

 

The first of our preparations are all centered around the motor home being “road ready”.  So we set about looking at all the systems to make sure they were in good working order.

WHEELS

First, we had the wheels all aligned, as the truck “felt” like it needed it when it got up to speed on a highway.  And those with “super trucks” like this one, already know that you need a real expert to do that well.  We thankfully had one within a short distance away – and took the truck there.  It did need it.  The alignment was adjusted, and while there we also paid extra to have the “steering wheel” re-aligned correctly.  That little additional aspect will help with knowing more about how the wheels are turned without getting out, or having someone else get out to look. To us it was important as first time owners.

Additionally, we are considering new tires even though the ones on the truck are in very good condition — the reason is that they are “worn” a bit funny from the alignment being off — and new tires would make the vehicle experience less drag and therefore better gas mileage.  The current tires would/could be sold to make up a good portion of the new price – and so at this point it’s a consideration, but not a necessity.

LEVELING SYSTEM

There was the small matter of a continuous beeping noise.  A sensor  was beeping and for a LONG time we couldn’t find out what it could be causing it to do that.  Out came the manuals and we had to read what it could be, run through them and start to rule things out.   Turned out it was the leveling system.  Some of the the stands under the rig needed to be welded and a few needed more serious re-threading work.  We could do this work ourselves (or should I say the “men” could do that themselves!) and so this was minor in costs.  We had to buy a tool or two to help with this but you know men love buying tools so that wasn’t a problem.

PROPANE TANK

We found as we went from one system to another checking “everything” like it was an airplane getting ready for a flight, that our propane tank was empty.  And old.  That meant that we would have to have it “tested” and certified before they would fill it up with propane.  It’s a safety issue and we knew it had to be done.  However, we found out that we could replace the tank with a totally different configuration using 2 tanks and it was less expensive than testing and refueling the old tank.  It would also be easier to hook up to our tailgating grill, DSC05911so we set about doing that.  We now have 2 new tanks and they are full of fuel for less than certification and fuel was for the old one.  Even better these are more or less removable and refillable at any propane location.  I am guessing that the old tank (from 2005) was the best way to do it at the time, but technology has advanced since then.

AIR BRAKES

These were leaking — and we have had to reseal them.  Right now they are holding air, yay!

Phase 1 — Complete!

Phase 2 – Taking it out for a night or two coming up.

 

 

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