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RVers Love To Help Each Other...

by Peggi McDonald

John and I were so naive in the beginning. The only fact we knew for sure was "we wanted a motorhome". Since we had no idea of what an RV was or how many models were out there we found it easy to limit our search to a motorhome. We decided to go fulltime even though we didn't know much about that either. After much discussion and a three year search we purchased our first dream machine one year before retirement. Although the extensive introduction from our dealer was most appreciated, as we pulled out of his lot we forgot most of what they told us. Thanks to the assistance of other RVers and our own ingenuity we began to understand the RV life. Even the manuals for our new RV didnt follow till later. To help us remember basic info during the briefing, John made a location diagram of all operating togs, valves, switches and handles.

Our maiden voyage was a major fiasco. Although we did everything wrong, we had a wonderful time. That first weekend was a definite learning exercise. Our site only had water and electric hookups, no sewer. Imagine, in two morning showers we overfilled the gray water tank...we knew nothing about any water saver on the shower handle. We were aware it was not good for the environment to release gray (shower) water, but since it was almost fresh tap water I felt there was no harm. With John's diagram in hand, I ventured outside to open the valve. You guessed it, the sketch was upside down and I pulled the black (toilet) handle in error. Thankfully the black tank was almost empty.

Quickly I cleaned my mess with the water hose but the manager was most unhappy with me. Lesson number one, don't drain gray water on the ground, especially without a parks approval...also make sure all notes and diagrams are right side up. There's a good part to this story, the next day European RVers in a rental unit asked us to show them how to dump their tanks. We felt important, now as "experts" we were sharing our new-found info with others.

As our weekend experiences continued, we slowly understood a fraction of the art of living and travelling in an RV. We were hooked, every trip became a more memorable adventure than the last--even with our numerous mistakes. Finally we discovered a park 20 minutes from work...a wonderful place to spend the summer. The key to our transformation from inexperience, to writing about the RV lifestyle, was mainly because of the kind assistance of seasoned RVing neighbours at that park. They took us under their wing and explained every intricate detail of the RV lifestyle. Now we share the same information with anyone who'll listen because we want all RVers to be as contented with this fascinating way of
life as we are. Recently we traded to our third motorhome, this time to a diesel pusher. As long as we have been on the road, we felt like we returned to newbies when it came to understanding the idiosyncrasies of this unit. Every type and model of an RV is unique and it is somewhat frustrating to learn the ins and outs, but with the help of your dealer, neighbours and RV friends most problems are easily overcome.

When you first check into a campground, don't be afraid to ask your next door neighbours to help you park your unit. They can also assist you to set up hand signals so parking becomes easier. For instance the co-pilot must be able to see the mirror--or the driver can't see you. Directing John into the site is my job when we pull into a campground and if that is your task you have the perfect opportunity to "tell your mate exactly where to go and they can't argue". I don't worry about explaining which way to turn the steering wheel, I only signal where I want John to put the rear of the unit. The exact signals you use are unimportant so long as you both understand what they mean.

Design a signal for 'come back, there is lots of room'.
Another to 'move the rear end left or right',
--'come straight back',
--'go forward',
--'lots of space',
--'STOP for a minute' while you check 'hidden' objects like patios or picnic tables. Use your hands to 'indicate the distance between the fence or electric post and your unit' And last 'cross your hands, fingers straight or in a fist to indicate STOP' (immediately). Some RVers find it easier to use a walkie-talkie to communicate with the driver on the CB, others prefer a headset/mike attachment to talk to each other. There is no right or wrong way, only what works for you. But remember the driver can only follow the advice of one person at a time. If your neighbour wants to help when you have advanced beyond novice simply say 'Thanks', explain that the driver "only has eyes for you".

We learned so many basics from our next-door-neighbours during those early years. They explained how to level a unit using 18" x 2" x 8" boards cut with a beveled edge. Our newest friends were insistent that if we put a board(s) under one dual tire we also added one to the inside dual at the same time to equalize the pressure on the axle/tire assembly.

They also insisted while setting up it was important to test our electric hook-up with a three way ground monitor--(tester with lights) before connecting to electricity to test for reverse polarity or open ground. These testers are available from RV supply and hardware stores. They explained the importance of using a water regulator at the tap end of your water hose to control campground water pressure. As well as they informed us of the importance of 30 amp 10 gauge (fat cords) electric extension cords and why we should use special water treated hoses(usually white)--25 foot extensions of each are required as well as a 20' sewer hose. Our good neighbours shared other hints such as using quick disconnects(used to connect water hoses at home)to the RV city water outlet...a quick 'snap' and your connected.

RVers love to share invaluable hints. This list could continue ad-infinitum, however it's easier to digest in small doses. One tip I hope you take to heart, "don't be shy accepting or asking an RVer for help". Taking heed of their experience will save you money and aggravation.
Till next time. See you down the road.

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