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The RV Newbie, a short story about watching a Newbie preparing to travel
My first Rig
We had gotten up, and were sitting in our RV drinking our morning Coffee.
We were in a small, but nice campground off of US-95 in the southern part of South Carolina called The Oaks. We had pulled out of Orlando the day before, and we stayed here, for the first time, mainly because it was exactly 6-hours of drive time.
You see, everyone is different, but, I have learned that 6-hours on an interstate, in a Diesel Pusher, towing a Jeep, is right at my personal limit.
My Limit of; physical endurance, and patience with other drivers. And, of course there is the fact that, after that long on the road, my mental sharpness is not what it was when I first pulled out.
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Anyway, we had slept late, and we were in the process of getting our bodies and minds going, when I opened the day/night shades, and saw that our neighbor was up and about, tinkering with his "Fiver".
He had pulled in right at dark the night before, and it looked like he was getting ready to pull out again.
I poured another cup and as I watched, I saw that he was going through some kind of ckecklist, I supposed; as he was carrying around some papers, as he worked on his Rig.
Now, all of us RVers know that checklists are a valuable thing that we all use when Rving.
I have been doing this for a number of years and I still use my favorite checklists for such things as;
Winterization, Un-Winterizing, RV Storage in warm and cold weather, short term RV storage, setting up at a campground, preparing to leave a campground, on the road checks when at a rest stop, after fueling, etc. etc. etc.
So, whatever my neighbor was doing out there was a good thing, from my perspective.
But, as I watched, I noticed that he was taking the phrase "be thorough" to a new level.
He initially had my attention when I saw that he was removing each running light bulb, wiping them down, and replacing them. Then he had his wife, in their truck turning each section on, while he tapped on the lens, and saw that they were working good.
After that, he pulled out a gauge, and checked each tire's air pressure, and then wrote the reading down on his paper.before he moved on to the next.
He opened each storage compartment, and I saw in one that there were tie-down straps laced over the stuff inside the compartments. Nothing was going to shift around while he was going down the road.
He even messed around with the Hitch after connecting his Rig to his truck for over ten minutes. I don't have a clue what he did for that long, but obviously something concerned him.
By this time, I was on my third cup of coffee, and he had my uninterrupted attention.
My neighbor had by this time, gone to the other side of his camper, and I saw nothing for about a half an hour, so I supposed that he was getting the inside of his Rig ready for travel.
The only thing that I dod not see him do, is go up onto the roof of the Rig, I thought to myself as I got involved in checking my email.
I looked up about a half an hour later, and I saw that he was finally pulling his Rig out, with his wife standing on one side, and his daughter standing on the other.
It was obvious that they had specific direction of what to do and what hand signals to use to guide him safely out of his campsite.
So he pulled out, and then?
Well, he stopped in the middle of the street, got out of the truck, and walked back to thesite and walk around checking that he had not left anything at the site, I assume.
He did another walk around of the Rig, Truck, compartments, the hitch, before he had his wife get into the driver's seat, and they went through another light checkout procedure.
This took about five more minutes, and finally, they got into the truck and left the campground.
I was smiling to myself, when I looked closer, and suddenly, everything made sense to me.
He had a Thirty Day tag on the "Fiver". And, looking back at the Rig? Well, It was obviously brand new. Shiny, unscratched, unstained, New!
He was a Newbie, and he had read all of the books, and was doing everything to be the best RVer in the world.
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Now, don't get me wrong, all of us Rvers go through that "this new to me" phase, where we really try to do everything possible to take care of our Rig, on the road and off.
The sad reality is that too many RVers, over time begin to neglect going through the necessary checks to assure that they have a safe Rig, before they go on a trip. And too many of these RVers end up broken down on the side of the road, or in a campground.
And, as I mentioned already, I have my own checklists that I use year round with my Rig.
Of course, over the years, as I owned different Rigs, of different sizes, with different accessories and equipments, I have modified these personal checklists, as needed.
So, the real question that every RVer has to ask himself is; Do I have a perfect memory? Or, do I need to make a list to assure my travels are safe and problem free.
What a lot of new RVers do not understand, is that your RV is essentially a house on wheels.
It hits potholes, it runs over debris on the road, it shakes, it vibrates, it spends time in cold and hot weather, and all of that stuff inside and on it have a tendency to not take such treatment well, over time.
Oh, they are designed to withstand some punishment, but in reality, they are not designed for the levels they have to go through, at times, on the road. And honestly, we couldn't affor them, if they were.
I hope this newbie keeps his attention on his Rig, and keeps modifying his checklists accordingly.
If he does, he will be a better and happier camper over time.
But, some of th things he did, really are a level of overkill, after just an overnight stay.
For instance, checking the air pressure in your tires is a good thing. That should be done before any trip, and regularly after that.
I check mine after sitting for a week or more in a campsite, or before pulling out, but not on an overnight stay.
I will pull out onto hard surface and take a long look at the profile of each tire to assure that they look like they have adequate air pressure, but I do not use an air gauge every day, on every tire.
I also check that my lights work before a trip, and when pulling out of a campsite. I do not pull the bulbs and clean them. If they work OK when I do my ckecklist for pulling out, then good.
I assume that these and the other, what I would call "overly enthusiastic" things that the Newbie went through will evolve into his own, personal and effective and efficient list of key items that give him confidence that he will enoy his travels.
And that is what really counts, anyway, isn't it?
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© 2011 Don Bobbitt