We woke up to a glorious morning full of anticipation and a few nerves. This was our first big drive with the monster rig. We were on our own now, no one but ourselves to blame if we did something really stupid, and believe me, with this beastie, that was a very real possibility. After morning coffee, which is of the utmost importance, as those who know me will tell you, and a small breakfast, it was time to get down to business. We battened down the hatches on the inside, secured the doors, unhooked the water and power, and then started working on getting it hitched.
I had mentioned in the last post, I’d talk about the hitch. Well here it is, and for those of you don’t have a real interest in the RV technical side, you’ll probably want to skip to the next paragraph. For trailers this size, you use what’s called a 5th wheel hitch, instead of a standard bumper hitch. It’s large, heavy, and mounted in the bed of the tow vehicle above the rear axle. This gives you much greater stability and maneuvering capability. They are also sized by the weight of the trailer, so if you’re buying one, be sure and get one properly rated for your trailer. Our first effort at hooking up was with our instructor at the RV place when we first drove it off the lot. It was a bit troublesome then, but we all chocked it up to it being new and a little stiff. When we got to the RV park that evening, unhooking proved even more difficult, and even with our instructor there, it was about a 20 minute ordeal. To make a long story a little shorter, we continued to have problems for the next couple of days until Don and I finally figured out what we should have been doing all along. The problem with unhitching, which had been the biggest pain in the ***, was that we were trying to decrease the weight of the trailer on the hitch before releasing it, and our particular hitch needed the weight there to release. Go figure. So, if you’re a newbie like us, be sure the place that sells you the hitch, properly explains how it works. Trust me, you’ll look a lot less like a rookie at the RV park.
Anyway, after we hitched up, got our lights, cameras, and sensors all connected, and did our once over to make sure everything was working, we hit the road. After a few minutes of sheer terror, I carefully opened my eyes to find we were moving along just fine. Fortunately for us, Don had kept his open, which would account for why we hadn’t crashed into anything. Our journey started on narrow 2 lane back roads with little traffic, but left and right turns on small roads like that could almost qualify as a Disney E Ticket ride ( that one’s for all you folks over 40, that still know what that is ). You have to go as far out into the intersection as is physically possible, and then start the turn. Believe me, that’ll get your heart pumping. Don navigated his way beautifully through those barely wide enough roads and then reached the main highway. Now with 4 regular lanes, we both relaxed a bit, and then it started getting fun. We were on America’s highways carrying our vacation home behind us. How cool is that.
This day’s journey would take us from Northern Montana to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, a city we were very anxious to see. We skirted Flathead Lake, which strangely enough we had never seen in the 11 years we’ve been visiting the Glacier Park area, and wow, is that beautiful. We’re definitely going to have to spend a bit of time there. Went through the plains that lead up to the mountain passes that separate Montana and Idaho, all picture perfect, but unfortunately, there was a lot of smoke in the air from the fires in Washington State.
I have to take a moment out here to tell you about the really great perks you get when driving an RV. The best is that you never have to look for a bathroom, it’s always with you. For those that have done very much cross country driving, you know how big of a deal that can be. The second is that your refrigerator is always right behind you, and since eating is one of the few things you can do when you’re sitting in the passenger seat, that comes in real handy. Another great one is that if you need a nap, no problem, just pull over and hop into bed. Of course, now that I’ve got you thinking, you can come up with a whole lot more of those fun perks.
Ok, back to the drive. We made it in to Coeur d’Alene early in the afternoon, settled in to a really great RV park, unhooked, set everything up, and then headed to town to check it out. This is a gorgeous town. It sits on an expansive lake surrounded by mountains, with an active downtown built right by the water that boasts tons of quaint restaurants, a large park and playground, shops, hotels, etc. The residents are all about the outdoor life; hiking, biking, boating, and swimming. If it can be done outdoors, they’re doing it. They also were extremely friendly and helpful. After a delicious dinner, a walk in the park, and a little swing on the swing set in the playground ( hey, you’re never too old for some things ), we headed back home to enjoy the rest of the evening.
We had been using the garage portion of the trailer as our storage area for this trip, and since the following evening would be our last in the unit, I wanted to start getting things organized. The garage has couch seats on both sides ( which you can see in the picture ), that turn into a queen sized bed, above them is an another queen sized frame and mattress, so that area can actually sleep 4 people. Both the seats and bed frame are mounted to 4 rails that have a hydraulic system that raises and lowers them, so you can get them up close to the ceiling and out of your way. When we left that morning, we had them in the upper most position, with one of the two tables that came with the unit, and a ladder, laying on the mattress. This was where the RV folks had placed them before we left the dealership. On the floor of the garage was the second table laying on it’s back, our suitcases, and a few boxes. What I found when I went in to the garage that evening was very different. The table that started the day on the mattress, was now leaning against the door with a broken leg and chipped side. The table that was originally on the floor also had a broken leg from the force of the fall of the other table. The ladder was shoved into the TV, which fortunately didn’t break the TV, just marred the screen. The suitcases and boxes which were laid neatly on the floor when we left, were now haphazardly strewn everywhere. But the real shocker was one of the 4 rails that hold up the couches and bed, had pulled almost completely off the wall. OMG ! Good Grief, we hadn’t gone 4 wheeling, we had been on paved road and highways, and for all you Hawaii folks, we’re not talking Hawaii type paved.
It was almost 11pm at that point, we had a long drive coming up the next day, and early appointments for winterizing and storage the following day. We had no tools, and didn’t have a clue if there was a repair shop close that had either the time or knowledge to fix it.
To be continued …
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