Okay, so I didn’t really just forget. I write this blog with a bent on the positive because I want it to be something good for you, my readers. Perhaps you will laugh, perhaps you will plan a trip, perhaps it will give you info for a trip you are already planning. Perhaps it will just inspire you to get out and explore someplace new. My hope is that in some way reading this blog will make your life better, even if it’s just a teeny, tiny bit. That is my hope. But sometimes stuff happens, and sometimes that stuff costs some money.
But with a new camping season soon to start, it’s time to fess up. I want to start our 2020 Travel Trailer Season with a clean slate. So before we get to the next trip, this post gives you the low down on the down low. My hope for any new travel trailers owners, or yet-to-be owners, is that you can learn from us. For those more experienced in these matters, please be nice and remember the manners your mother taught you.
Our first unsettling event deals with our stabilizing jacks, and the mishap occurred on our very first trip in 2019. Read about that trip here. When we did our dealer walk through, the day we took possession, I took notes. I wrote down “level side to side with the chocking blocks” and “level front to back with the power jack.” What I did not write down was that once the stabilizing jacks are down, do not use the power jack any more. So, at Arrow Rock, I was fine tuning the leveling. I am kind of a perfectionist in such matters. Things need to be centered, balanced. We suddenly heard a very loud, bad sound. Like Donald Trump would say, “It was very, very bad.” The result: our stabilizing jacks were bent from the trailer movement. We did manage to get them lowered enough to provide support for our camping days. And we also managed to get them raised up enough when we left, so they wouldn’t drag on the highway, shooting out sparks, on our drive home. Now we know. Cost to repair: $433.53.
Our second lesson occurred, well, we don’t know when. We just know that at one point, we looked at the back spare tire on our trailer, and it was bent. Very bent. It was no longer parallel with the back of the camper, it was about a 30 degree angle to the back of the trailer. We don’t know when or how it happened. We hope no animals were harmed. Cost to repair: $50.
Not to worry about us though. We clearly remember the when and where of our third, and very expensive, lesson. We just didn’t see it coming, or rather, it just didn’t move out of our way. We were quite excited to be heading to Rend Lake for 9 luxurious days. Here we are, all packed up, and we head out. As we make the first right turn on our street, Dan says we left a window open. He could see something in the rear view mirror. So, we stop on the next block, and lo and behold, our awning is all cattywampus. Like major cattywampus. It wasn’t like that at home, just a few seconds ago. The whole thing has shifted about a foot and a half to the left. So, we drove around the block back home to see what the heck had happened. After parking in front of our home, we see a major limb from our neighbor’s tree laying in the street. Apparently, we took out that limb as we began our trip. We had parked closer to the tree than usual, and we didn’t realize we would be trimming the tree for John and LeeAnn as we drove out. The odd thing is, we didn’t hear anything. We just pulled out, chatting and just oh so happy to be on our way.
Well, we figured out what happened, and we figured out we could still go on our trip. Funny, the awning still works, but anyone with an RV eye can easily see the story. One can find anything on Youtube, and we did find some Youtube videos on how to fix this. So, while we tried with a rubber hammer to pound it back straight, nothing moved. At. All. My next idea to fix the awning was to find another tree with the same size limb, hanging out at just about the same height. We could pull up in front of it, and then gun it in reverse, backing into the limb, and hopefully, moving the awning to the right, back to its original position. Hey, what did we have to lose? However, Dan vetoed my very clever idea, so instead, we got a quote from our Middleton RV dealer. We will get this repaired; we just haven’t done it yet. Cost to Repair: $1941.
Our next lesson, number four, if you are counting, deals with RV repairs and bids. When we got our trailer winterized at Middleton, we asked for a bid to fix the awning and also to put a slide topper on our unit. Since we were going into winter at this point, we told them we were going to wait a bit. No problem. Once the holidays were over, we took our trailer to an RV repair place close to home. We thought they would cost more, but we thought it might be worth it since this business is so close to home. Here’s how the bids came in:
- Middleton RV slide topper: $460
- Close to home slide topper: $1106
- Middleton RV awning repair: $1941
- Close to home awning repair: $2262
However, the RV repair place close to us got mad when we said we were going to wait. The man even told Dan he had wasted his whole day. He said fine, take it somewhere else, and hung up abruptly. This place advertises free estimates. That’s how they treat you when you want to shop elsewhere?!! We wasted his whole day? Really? Middleton told us the cost in about 15 minutes. We had to hitch and unhitch twice (there and back) to take our trailer there for a bid. It took our time, too. There was no explanation why it cost so much more. We thought it would cost more, just not that much more! Now, we will never go back there, and while I won’t mention the name of the place here, I won’t be afraid to when I tell the story or if someone asks me. So, I guess the lesson here is to get multiple bids for any work done and stay away from the jerks of the world once you know who they are. Sorry, I couldn’t make this lesson humorous.
The last lesson for this post is more of a realization. When we got our travel trailer, we were so excited; we planned a number of trips. Hey, let’s go here! Hey, let’s go there! Every time I saw a wonderful campground on Campendium, I tried to figure out when we could go there. While our enthusiasm still ranks high, it has been tempered just a bit, that these trips take time, planning, gas, and money. And every mile pulling a travel trailer is so much slower than a mile when one is sailing along down the highway in a Prius. So, the lesson is that we’ve had to modify some of our original plans. Change a trip in January to April. Allow some time between trips for funds to accumulate. Consider when the unit needs to be winterized and when it can be de-winterized for the season. Balance out the cost of gas with the length of the trip. Plan some trips farther away and some closer to home. Don’t plan to head south on January 2nd as we originally scheduled. Recover from Christmas. Basically, just think things through a little more, add some thought to our heart.
But don’t think for a second, we have any regrets. Or that we are any less passionate about our Travel Trailer Trips. Nope. We have trips planned, and we look forward to, God willing, many new adventures. We’re just a tad smarter about it. So, regarding our 2020 camping season, all I can say is, “Watch out trees! Here we come!”