My first introduction to RVing occured in Alaska. On a 2 week vacation, I rented a 22 foot class C RV. The RV served as our hotel, rental car, restaurant and bathroom. Prior to taking the RV off the lot, customers are required to watch a short video on the nuances of driving and using the RV. We had so much fun we did it again a year later. This time we rented an RV that was 3 feet longer.
Back in Maryland I looked at the possibility of getting my own RV. There are a lot of choices when getting a recreational vehicle. 1 weekend I went to the Navy Rec Center and asked a few RVers if I could ask them questions on their rig. Most people I spoke with were very helpful. I talked with people that had class A rigs and also 5th wheel owners.
The owner of a deluxe class A rig for sale gave me the grand tour. He was very detailed as he showed me every feature his rig had. After what seemed like an hour long demo, he told me the price he wanted was $185,000 and the rig cost over $350,000 when it was new. As nice as his ride was, that was about twice the price of what I was willing to lay out. But I was convinced I wanted a class A due to the undercarriage storage that they have.
I found a used 2005 class A Coachmen Aurora. It was 2 years old and only had 2,900 miles on it. It looked like it was brand new. I signed on the dotted line. It came with a 20 year loan that I managed to pay off in 10 years.
Here we are set up in a campground in South Carolina
Since I got the RV, I got rid of the old style TV set that was above the dashboard. We now have a thinner TV mounted to a bracket off of 1 of our cabinets. The hole left by the TV set now has a fan in it for when the temperature outside is unreasonably hot. We used that fan a lot in southern Arizona and Nevada in 2019. 1 of the things we have on our to do list is ditch the carpet and replace it with some sort of laminate. The carpet is difficult to keep clean. It looks terrible as it hasn’t aged gracefully. Who knows, maybe one day.
I’m glad I had the smaller RV to practice driving in. I’m surprised that they let anyone buy these behemoths and then take them off the lot without any sort of training. Turning on city streets is always an adventure. Stopping an RV takes a whole lot of asphalt to accomplish. The other daily challenge while driving the RV is the other drivers. Specifically those people who will pull in front of you, eliminating the cushion that you left to ensure you can safely stop if you have to brake. Conversing with other RVers in the campground, the assure me that the same thing happens to them. All the time!
Once we get to our destination, setting up is a breeze. We have our system down. Previously I camped in state parks and other rustic locations. Those sites are less than level with dirt and rocks underneath. Now we make reservations in proper campgrounds. Most of them have cement pads to park the RV. At first I didn’t like them but now I’m disappointed when I don’t have a nice poured concrete pad. It’s easier to level.
Once level, the electric, septic, cable and water get tied in. On our water we run a 2nd hose outside that comes in handy for all sorts of uses. Our shore power has a surge protector that prevents our electronics from getting fried in case of a power surge. Closer to the door we put a rug out to cut down on the amount of dirt that gets tracked into the RV. Depending on how long we are going to be in a place, we may put out the propane grill. Next job is the awning which we usually put out. In a lot of places in the southwest, the wind was too unpredictable to leave the awning out.
Sometimes we’ll put out the dog pen for Apollo. We had 2 pens that we hooked together, thinking he’d like the extra room to roam. It turned out he’s slowed down in his old age. He just lays in the pen or walks around slowly, so we got rid of the 2nd pen. An outdoor trash can is quite handy as is a plastic folding table. A few folding chairs round out our outdoor items.
So far I have driven the RV over 30,000 miles. I’ve had it on almost every road imaginable. To be honest, driving on the interstate is my preferred location. Traffic moves at an anticipated speed. There isn’t much to slow you down. Most drivers understand and respect the rules when driving on the interstate. I usually camp out in the slow lane. I do have to watch for on ramps and any traffic that might be feeding into my lane. I can either slide over 1 lane or adjust my speed to allow the other vehicles to merge smoothly. Most of the time it goes as planned.
Driving on secondary roads presents a host of challenges. First are traffic lights. Since I can’t stop on a dime, I have to allow that the green light as I approach it could possibly turn yellow at any moment. There is a window when you still have time to stop but then you get past the point of no return. The other challenge is when there are strip malls and the like. Their parking lots feed traffic onto the surface streets. Many of these drivers will dart out in front of me. This is fine as long as traffic keeps moving. If the stop quickly, often I find myself with little wiggle room to brake safely.
Sitting behind the wheel of the RV, I have a great view of the road. I really appreciate this out west and other locations with awesome scenery. It’s like I’m looking out a giant sized picture window while sitting in a lounge chair. I keep a few drinks and snacks handy as I roll down the road. Pretty much everything else I need while driving down the road is withing reach. I have a rear view camera that allows me to monitor my towed vehicle. Looking at the screen and seeing that I’m being followed is a reassuring feeling.
So that’s a few of the things about our RV. It’s our transportation, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, storage locker and our home.
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