Friday, August 5, 2011

Hey, hey we’re the monkeys

August 4, 2011 ---Today was one big RV learning experience.  Maybe that’s why the cheapskate in me didn’t mind paying $36 bucks to stay in an actual RV park for one night and have electricity, water and TV.  At this point, I don’t feel like driving around looking for a free spot.
I once read a story written by a family who were new to RVing, bought a brand new rig, and took off on a three-month trip right from the RV store.  I remember thinking “These people are crazy” because too many things can go wrong.  In their case, a major appliance went out almost immediately, and they had to drive back to the RV shop and wait days for it to get replaced.  And while I can’t remember all the other issues, plenty more followed.  That’s the reason we knew we had to have our RV at least a year before we left on our trip.  If we hadn’t, we probably would have accidentally driven it off a cliff.
The same thing might be said of a tow vehicle.  In February, we bought a used Honda CRV, which is highly recommended on line by lots of folks as a “toad” because it’s all wheel drive and fairly light weight. We bought the Honda from Chris, the son of our good friends John and Debbie (Hi John and Deb!) But we didn’t get it to it’s full pimped out and expensive toad vehicle glory until a few weeks before we left, and only towed it behind the RV three times before the big trip.
Unfortunately, you just can’t just tie a car to a motor home with baler twine and take off, like my mom used to secure her luggage before a plane trip.  You have to attach big metal pins to the car, hook a bar with y-shaped, flexible “arms” to the pins, attach safety cables from the rig to the car, hook up an electrical cable that allows the “blinkers” on the rig to also turn on the toad blinkers, attach a big box over the toad brake that somehow makes the toad brake engage when you press the RV brake, and attach a breakaway cord that signals the aforementioned big box to engage the toad brake if the worst case scenario actually happens and the toad is no longer one with the RV.

And if any of that makes sense, you are obviously smarter than we are.
We seemed to have all that down, but were having trouble getting the y-shaped bar correctly attached to the toad.   The directions say the y-arm is correctly in place when “the locking handles are engaged and locked.”   But we could not always get both of the “locking handles”  locked, which in our minds meant if you pushed on them they would not move.  After a few hundred miles of driving, and repetitive reading of the tow bar instructions, we now think by “locked,” the instructions are actually referring to the arms of the Y bar and not the handles --  the handles only have to pop up when you first start to tow, and that we can get to happen consistently.
Another lesson learned today:   Don’t park your rig anywhere except a big open space or a designated RV campsite.  Downtown Lander has large parallel parking spaces, and we thought we’d just pull our RV into one of them, go to a coffee shop, get coffee and download our first blog entry.  JIm pulled into a parking space and asked me if he was going to clear a street sign.  I said “yes” because all I could see was the pole -- I didn’t even notice the actual sign.  A clearer head (Jim’s) prevailed and I got out to the rig to make sure we would clear the sign.  We could not.  In fact, if we kept going we’d put a big scrape down the right side of our rig.  Because we were inches from the sign and right on the curb, Jim made a hard left turn; the front Honda tire got caught in the curb and started to turn right instead of left.  A scream from me followed and Jim stopped.  So now our rig was partially in a traffic lane on Lander’s Main Street and our tow car was stuck.  Funny how quickly you can unstick things when you have to.   I’m thinking we will get the Honda’s alignment checked when we get to Ohio, but for the most part we got away unscathed.  And it was back to the casino we stayed at the night before to hook up he rig again in relative privacy.  Without coffee.
Then we got to the Ft. Casper Campground, paid our $36 bucks and started to hook up the electricity, dump hose, TV, water, etc, only to find we are missing a few parts needed  for hook up at an actual RV park. So we got to see a lot of Casper scenery on our way to the Home Depot. On the plus side, you can see forever around here.
Also on the plus side:  JIm is still happy as a clam, and I’m glad to be with Jim.  By the time we get to Ohio we will be  pros.  But today, we felt like monkeys driving a motor home.


  1. I don't see any monkeys! Glad to read everything was relatively smooth, anecdotally speaking. I've heard worse, to the point that I would never tow anything, thus proving your braveness. We're looking forward to seeing you. D&T

  2. #$%^#! Hondas are always turning the wrong way. Loved the story. FRP!
    Forward Retirement Pioneers!

  3. Thanks for writing, Steve and Trud. I'm pecking out this message on Jim's i-phone. Someday I'll figure out how to post a story via the phone, too. Right now we're at Chadron State Park in NE and it's beautiful. See you soon, Trud.