The RV Day From Hell

I kinda missed a day 10 update.  With the lack of quality sleep in a trailer and the myriad issues with the RV, suffice it to say my production has dropped a bit.  🙂

If you want to see previous updates on our trip, links below:

If you’ve been paying attention at all you know that I’m not a very adept camper. That being said, I don’t think EVERYTHING that happened on our driving day with the RV was my fault.

It was supposed to be a pretty simple day. Pack up the RV and drive an hour North. Visit with a friend, eat some lobster, drive another hour to a different campsite for the remainder of our trip. There were a few bumps and bruises along the way.

The first indication things weren’t going well was the motorist in the lane next to me on the highway flagging me down and pointing underneath my pickup truck (words I never thought I would utter 18 months ago). I pulled off the road and found our sewer hose dangling out of the back of the pickup truck and dragging on the ground underneath the RV. It actually looked to be in pretty good shape so I thought maybe I dodged a bullet. Still, it was clear I did a pretty bad job securing it in the back of the pickup truck. Despite my best efforts it would pop out again a few miles down the road, after which I made sure it wouldn’t be moving anytime soon.

When we arrived at our campsite we got some help from the evening manager parking the RV in a very tight spot. I had plenty of daylight left, or so I thought. Backing in to the spot was easy since he gave me good instructions.

The first step in setting up the trailer at a new location is to drop the jacks and unhook the truck. We have an auto-level system for the jacks which also saves a ton of time. In this case, the control panel for the jack system displayed an error message. I had heard about this from other folks who owned similar trailers and already knew the first couple of troubleshooting steps. However, after 10 minutes it was clear that the easier troubleshooting steps were not working.

Next up on the list was to check the wire harness for the jack system. You might wonder why I’d go into so much detail. Normally I wouldn’t, except it’s why this developed into a complete cluster. For starters, the manual doesn’t really tell you where the wire harness is. It’s not located with the main fuses, nor near the panel. Mostly out of dumb luck I found it, mounted to the top of the storage space.

Near the front of the trailer, underneath the main bedroom is a storage space that runs underneath the width of the trailer.  By their nature, RVs aren’t exactly overflowing with storage space.  To plan a long trip effectively, you need to use all of the space very effectively.  Think of it like a game of Tetris.  When pulling into a new campsite, everything is packed in that storage space. 

By the time we unloaded the storage space our campsite looked like some sort of yard sale or some sort of weird bazaar.  The door for the storage space isn’t very big and it’s an awkward height off the ground for climbing up into it.  Couple that with a latch to avoid getting stuck in my stomach and I looked like the worst version of Simone Biles trying to vault my way into the storage space. 

In the process I managed to hit a small bolt with my leg hard enough to jam it in to the bone.  Oddly not a lot of blood, just cursing, screaming and an hour of icing later on.  Sorry, no pics of that gore, though Michelle was nice enough to capture a picture of me trying to figure out the wire harness.  I checked all the wires and re-seated all the connections.  I climbed out of the storage space without further damage and reset all the jacks again.  45 minutes after starting the process the leveling system was working again.  And yet, the fun wasn’t done quite yet.

Shortly after getting the leveling system working again we got another error message.  This time it was because the jacks weren’t long enough to compensate for a fairly slanted campsite.  For non-campers, you can imagine how much fun an RV can be on an uneven campsite.  Things….and people tend to roll in one direction if you’re not level.  The most logical solution was to adjust the height of the front jacks.  I won’t bore you with all the details, but the short version is that requires hooking the truck back up to the trailer so I could lift the jacks and adjust the pins.  We did that three times until we got the most optimal height and still needed to put 4×4 blocks under the back jacks.  Side note: if you own an RV go buy an 8′ length of 4×4 post from Home Depot and cut it into manageable pieces.  You’ll thank me later.

We’re now way past an hour and the camper still isn’t setup.  We had to pack all the stuff back into the storage space since there was rain in the forecast.  That’s when I figure out that the bracket on the sewer pipe I dragged behind me is gone, cracked off somewhere on a Maine highway.  Without that there wouldn’t be an effective way to drain the tanks on the RV. 

Which, honestly wasn’t the worst problem since our tub was still leaking.  I tested the fix I had done the night before and it was mostly better, though still dripping in one spot.  That meant another application of sealant and waiting 24 hours for it to cure.

Performance Anxiety

If you’ve never setup an RV at a campsite, there’s one additional element that adds to the sheer enjoyment of camper issues.  With the campsites so close together, the next RV is probably less than 20 feet over from ours.  The occupants of that RV were sitting outside watching me the entire time.  There was very little question I was a great source of amusement for them.  Any doubt of that was when they asked, “Is this your first time camping?”

Not that I would ever be selected to be President of all things camping.  But, if I was the first rule would be the only thing you’re allowed to say to another camper struggling to get setup is, “Need help?”. 

The Final Two Pennies

My wife is much calmer than me about so many things.  While my frustration was to be expected, I looked over at her one point and said, “I know you said I shouldn’t be grumpy today, but I feel like an exception is in order.”  I was expecting one of her normal sunshiney answers.  Instead, it was decidely no G-rated.  She may have uttered some bad words, including one that had something to do with a male cow where the ending rhymes with “spit”.  It was a frustrating couple of hours with an RV less than a year old, where something seems to not work right at pretty much every stop.  This was all amongst record high temperatures in Maine, only adding to the enjoyment.  Oh, and if you’re keeping score at home, I’ve spent well over $100 on sewer pipes I didn’t need before the trip started.  

The only saving grace to the two hours of lost time was an enticing view of the ocean, our view for the rest of trip until we head for home.  Hope you guys can laugh at our mishaps.  I’m sure I will someday as well.  OK, maybe I’m not so sure.

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About the Author

My goal in life is to fill my family’s passports with stamps, creating buckets of memories along the way. You’ll find me writing about realistic ways for normal people to travel the world, whether you’re on a budget or enjoy luxury. I also enjoy taking us on the occasional detour to explore the inner workings of the travel industry.

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  1. Thank goodness you have that ocean view as compensation! Sure hope your kids are still telling you how much they loved this trip in the months and years ahead so the frustrations are overwhelmed by the good memories.

    I was a backpacker before marriage. My wife is not a camper. We stay at hotels now.

  2. i hear that there are generous privileges of fractional ownership at the signature St. Regis and The Luxury Collection hotels. some might call that the ultimate in glamping—not camping. #justsayin

  3. good luck pizza man! been there done that, well not quite as bad. but think “black water cover came off unexpectedly while holding it above the drain AND foot” and you’ll get my idea.

  4. If you ever want to change jobs and be a stand-up comic, you’ll be a huge hit; you’ve got tons of material and an excellent delivery. Love your stuff man!

  5. Yo Ed
    The only way I get Cindy into an RV would be to bind her and gag her!
    Outside of me I suspect you are the only person I know in the world less qualified to be In the RV business!

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