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The Trial Run

Updated on September 5, 2011

Not My Last Mistake

Gas tank full; propane tank full, groceries put away, clothing stowed and my dog Charlie’s toys packed, I was almost ready for our first real camping adventure in the new Hurricane motor home.  I had typed up a checklist and the last item was hooking up the Jeep to the tow bar.  That done and double checked, I pulled out from the yard and we were on our way. 

Driving the motor home was a blast.  You ride above traffic and can see far ahead just like truck drivers in their big rigs.  Lane changes and sharp turns were my only great concern.  Making it through town wasn’t nearly as bad as I had anticipated and soon we were on the interstate headed toward Lake Norman Motor Coach Resort north of Charlotte, NC along the banks of the lake.   Catering primarily to large rigs, mine was one of the smallest the week we were there. 

Well placed signs lead us to the park and as I pulled into the entrance a camp host immediately showed me where to park while I filled out registration paperwork.  It was here I was instructed to disconnect my TOAD (the Jeep) to make parking and maneuvering within the park much easier.  After securing the Jeep, I followed the host’s little golf cart to the back row where I had to back in to the site.  I had opted for this location because it was near their enclosed dog run and was one of the least expensive sites in the park yet it was raised enough I had a clear view of Lake Norman.  This was an expensive park however I had selected it because their website promoted first class service which included escort to your site and assistance with hooking up.  First time out, I thought it was a good idea.  And it was.

The grounds nicely landscaped with trees and shrubbery while all common areas were manicured grass.  All roads were paved and sites were poured concrete pads.  Every site had a picnic table and our (my dog Charlie and I) site backed up to a brick wall that was covered with flowering shrubs.  Every morning we placed our trash at the front of the coach and it was picked up by 9:00 a.m.  And in the evenings an outdoor bar was staffed and open for business. 

We spent the week staying close to “home” enjoying the newness and novelty of the RV lifestyle.  Neighbors in large 45’ long diesel coaches came and went while some were there for the entire summer.  The only problem we encountered was during a horrendous summer thunderstorm.  Realizing the wind was picking up, I hit the button to retract the awning and nothing happened.  It didn’t click.  It didn’t move at all…

The rain had just begun and I ran inside frantically checking for fuses.  I pulled the huge packet of instruction manuals out and rushed to find info on the awning.  Quickly perusing the manuals showed me how to loosen a few bolts to fold the awning manually.  The camp host, a neighboring camper and I stood on the picnic table and tried to follow the elusive instructions.  Now the rain was coming down in sheets and it seemed as though the wind was going rip the awning off the side of the motor home like a child’s kite at the beach.  My helpers finally gave up and I went inside to escape the fury of the storm.  While inside I recheck the fuse boxes and saw a flat style fuse laying in the bottom of the box.  No, no way,  I thought to myself.  The fuse was good and I surmised it was an extra but just for the heck of it I placed it in one of the empty slots.  I tried the switch for the awning and nothing happened.  Removing the fuse, I tried it in each of the empty slots and subsequently hit the awning switch.  There was nothing else I could do.  Suddenly, as I hit the switch, I heard a click.  Holding the switch down, the awning fought the winds and rolled back into its place stored against the side of the motor home.  Success!  Whew…

The second part of our trial run was a short two hour trip into the mountains where I had lived previously to moving to the Charleston area.  Here we stayed at Raccoon Holler off the Blue Ridge Parkway.   Here, the camp host required I unhook the Jeep at the check-in area which was easily a quarter mile from our assigned site.  Additionally, no one escorted us to the site.  And it was a back in site.  It was my first time backing into a site without any assistance and I did so like a pro!  After hooking up to the facilities, Charlie and I walked back to the check in area to retrieve the Jeep.  By the time we got back to the Hurricane, it was time for a well-deserved nap.

We spent the week meeting with old friends and enjoying the cool of the mountains.  The day of departure and our return to the Charleston area came shrouded in rain and fog.  I had the foresight to hook the Jeep up the night before and followed my checklist making sure levelers were up and the TV antenna was folded down.  Sure I was ready to head into the fog I put the motor coach in gear and headed out.  The gut wrenching sound and the feel of something hitting the side of the motor home made me slam on the brakes and see what the hell had happened.

I walked around the coach and saw…my stomach sank as I realized what I had done.  Or in this case what I had not done.  The 50 amp shore cord is almost 1 ½” in diameter and I had failed to unplug it from the power source.  That it is screwed into a collar on the outside of the coach…it tore down the side about three inches before I had come to a stop.  Fortunately I did no damage to the campground’s utility tower.  Unplugging and stuffing the cord into a storage area, then affixing the damaged area using good old duct tape, I scurried out of the RV park hoping no one saw my stupid mistake which ended up costing me several hundred dollars to repair.  Chances are great that will never happen again!

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