The Best Laid Plans or … A Study in Murphy’s Law – Final Chapter


As we carefully peeked into the garage, we were able to breath a huge sigh of relief. Thankfully, all was well.  A few things had shifted a bit, but everything that was supposed to be connected to the walls, was still connected, woohoo ! We went about packing, and trying to get as much done as we could in preparation for tomorrow’s winterizing and storing, including running a load of clothes in our little Washer/ Dryer combo. Yes, you heard right, the RV has a little Splendide combo unit, which was part of our negotiations when we bought the unit.


These are designed for RV use, and are great for small light loads. It’s not the best for sheets and towels , but really good for keeping up with your day to day stuff. After all, closet space in an RV isn’t conducive to having a huge wardrobe, so this way you don’t have to wear yesterday’s undies, if you know what I mean. Anyway, it worked great, and because it washes and dries as one program, you set it once, and then can head off to bed without staying up to transfer clothes, sweet.

We actually even got in a little TV time. It seems that a lot of the RV parks now provide cable TV hookups, so all you need is the coaxial cable, which we picked up at Walmart ( more about that shortly ) during one of our many midnight trips to the store. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to get it to work and then another few minutes to realize I had all of about 4 stations, but hey, at least it was little downtime for the brain.

We had an 11am appointment that next morning with a mobile winterizing guy that was meeting us at the storage facility in Prineville, Oregon. It was about a 30 minute drive from the RV park, and we knew we needed to get there early enough to get checked in, all the paperwork filled out, and to find our space, so we set the alarm for yet another predawn start. After loading a ” to go ” cup of joe, we headed to Walmart to return a few things we hadn’t needed, and pick up a few things that we still did. Don headed for the return line and I made my way through the store hoping to find everything on the list.

I’ve gotta take a few moments to give kudos to Walmart,  as they were a lifesaver more than once on this trip. Number 1, they’re open when you need them; number 2, they are basically everywhere; number 3, they carry tons of stuff and even have an RV section; and number 4, they’re well priced. We also have heard that many of the stores are OK with RV’s spending the night in their lots at no charge. Though we didn’t need to do that this trip, I can see where it would come in real handy if you ran into problems with full RV parks, or not being able to make your destination. So after visiting more Walmart stores in this one trip than I’ve done in my entire life, I am now a fan.

The downfall though can be long lines in the return lane, and that day was no exception, so by the time we made it back to the RV, we were running late. We quickly went through the batten down the hatches thing, hooked up, called the winterizing folks to let them know we were running late and hit the road.

We were lucky in that the Dodge Ram came with a great GPS system that had worked beautifully through the trip, and as we had done each morning, I entered our destination address into the system, and we followed it with total trust. Lesson number 96, never follow anything with total trust. There we were sitting on a dead end residential street in an enormous rig with the GPS telling us we had reached our destination. Needless to say we didn’t have a clue where the place really was, or how we were going to get out of this area without ripping off the top of the trailer. One of the many things that’s different about driving these large trailers is you have to pay close attention to what’s above you. Our rig for instance is  13′ – 3″ tall, which means that you not only have to worry about overpasses and tunnels, you have to worry about power lines and overhanging trees. So many of older residential neighborhoods have utility lines that cross the street, or large tree limbs that create a low hanging canopy. If you’re not paying attention, or get stuck in an area without a clear passage, you’re gonna get slammed with thousands of dollars in damages. Fortunately, before the panic started to settle in, a car parked behind us and a woman got out and came over to the truck. She lived in the neighborhood, and had seen a few other folks run into the same problem, so she said she’d get us there and just to follow her. She led us through the winding narrow streets that thankfully had enough height clearance, and took us right to the storage companies front door. We were completely overwhelmed at her generosity, and though she wouldn’t accept any compensation, she finally let us give her the box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts we had brought from Hawaii.

The winterizing guy was there waiting for us, and the manager of the facility told us to go ahead and deal with getting set up, that we could do the paperwork later. Tell you what, they grow ’em nice in Prineville.

Winterizing primarily consists of making sure all the water lines and water storage tanks get a good taste of Pepto Bismol. Not really, that’s just what it looks like. It’s a pink antifreeze that’s supposed to be non toxic ( well one can hope ), that’s run through all the lines to make sure they don’t freeze and crack. That included of course our in line coffee system, ice maker, washer dryer, toilets and faucets. We’re talkin’ lots of pink. There were some other odds and ends, but I’m going to wait until we de-winterize it next summer, to see what we did or didn’t do right. I’ll give you an update then with the definite do’s and don’ts.

Now it was time to back the sucker in to it’s winter home. I’ll give Don high marks, he got it in there well within the lines in a reasonably short period of time. That’ not to say it was perfect, or that he doesn’t need a little more practice in backing, and that I don’t need a little more practice in spotting, but it’s there and we didn’t kill each other. Mission accomplished.

Our good friends Gil and Cheryl Loomis, along with our now new good friend Cynthia Quinn, showed up during the final backing sequence, which put a little more pressure on us to look like we knew what we were doing, but it was so fun to see them there, and we got to do our first ” open house “. After closing everything up, and getting our storage paperwork finished, we gave the beastie a big kiss, and headed to Bend to share the evening with them.

We had a night filled with lots of laughter, wonderful stories, great food, and furry companionship with their adorable dog Buddy. It was hard to say goodnight as this was the first time the entire trip we actually had a chance to relax. In the morning we had a delicious breakfast in town, spent money in the downtown craft fair that happened to be going on while we were there, and then said our goodbye’s. It was time to head to Portland, store the truck, and then get back to Hawaii to get on with the planning. Lots to do.

In closing, I’ve gotta say, I love our rig. Despite all the surprises and hiccups we’ve run into, it’s a blast, and I can’t wait to get our 4 legged critters in there with us. I know one thing for sure, there’s nothing about this summer’s trip that’s going to be boring or normal. It’ll be Mr. Toads Wild Ride, and I can’t wait to experience it, and share it with you.

Heather Spencer

Mission Positive Films

PS. Though this is the last post about this trip, it’s not at all the last post about the adventure, so if this has been fun to read, you’ll have something related at least once a week. If you’re interested in following the blog, please sign up as a subscriber. I promise, the only Emails you get, are notifications of new posts.


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The Best Laid Plans or … A Study in Murphy’s Law – Part 4

Rails 2

Knowing that we had a long day ahead of us, we tried to do as much repair work as we could that night. We were able to use the parts from both damaged tables to make one relatively good one, which fortunately is all we really need anyway.  We got everything turned right side up and secured for the next day’s drive, and then went about trying to figure out how to solve the ” rail off the wall” issue. What we found was quite surprising, there were holes in the rails to accommodate 8 screws, but only 4 of those holes had been used with fasteners, 2 of those fasteners were on the floor, and the other 2 were now barely holding on to the wall. It was obvious that if we took it back on the road like this, we’d end up with the whole system on the floor.

Sorry, but I have to pause the story for a minute and spend a paragraph on RV manufacturing for those of you, who like us, don’t know much about it. I have been in a construction related business most of my life, and still love to learn about how things are made, but have a fairly firm idea in my head of the basic do’s and don’ts in building. Such as if a 2″ x 2″ will do, a 2″ x 4″ is better, and if 10 screws will hold something, 20 will be stronger, stuff like that. With RV’s the opposite seems to hold true; meaning that if a 2″ x 2″ will do, you can squeak by with a 1″ x 2″., and ” as long as you don’t touch it, it will probably stay there “. Now I’m having some fun at the RV manufacturer’s expense, but in reality they have a really tough job, because their houses are on wheels. That means everything is about keeping it light. It also means trying to build something that is not only lightweight, but sturdy enough not to fall apart from the vibration of miles and miles of roads. Trust me, those two concepts just don’t go together, so all in all they do a remarkable job. What’s strange is when you realize that what you thought was a real house, turns out to be a movie set instead. A great example are the tables that were damaged. I assumed that they were your standard laminate over press-board, and boy was I wrong. As I stood looking down at the damage, what I saw was very thin laminate over Styrofoam, yes, that’s right Styrofoam. I’ve also found out that the interior walls are 1″ thick, consisting of a layer of 1/8″ plywood on either side and foam in between, and that the fasteners that are holding up cabinets, towel racks, mirrors and the like, are little 3/4″ long regular screws that are being held only by that 1 layer of 1/8″ plywood. So when you hang your towel up at night, you’d better be real careful, or rack and all will end up in the toilet. That being said, they have put supports in for the major stuff like doors and windows, but do it yourself remodeling can be tricky.

OK, back to the story. First thing the next morning, I placed a call to the Montana dealership that sold us the trailer and asked about the rail. They were quick to say that if it wasn’t dealt with before any more driving, we’d end up with a real mess. Yeh well, we pretty much had that one, so we headed to the nearest Home Depot, bought a drill, fasteners, and braces, and got started. We had borrowed a ladder from the RV park manager who told us on hearing the story,   ” Well you aren’t the first, and you won’t be the last “. His advice, and I pass this on to anyone that has an interest in RVing, is to spend about a week in the area you purchase the rig, and drive it, and drive it, and drive it during that week. He says things will need to be fixed whether it’s new or used, and it’s a lot easier to be close to the dealership, than out a million miles away from civilization. Sage advice. Anyway, about noon, we had done everything we could, including putting in those 20 screws I mentioned. Hopefully, that would get us through until we could get to a dealership that would handle checking that out, as well as the other warranty work that still needed to be finished.

With fingers crossed, we tentatively pulled out on our way to Redmond Oregon, which would be our last night in the trailer for this trip. Eastern Oregon to my surprise is mostly plains, and farming land, but about halfway though the trip the road started following the Columbia River. 20151002_162135 20151002_160829Wow, is that beautiful, and on the hills on either side overlooking the river are large wind turbines, very impressive.

We had to leave the river much too soon, and headed inland to central Oregon where you find high desert, also a surprise as I always though of Oregon as primarily wooded terrain. We were in a race with the sun at that point, and were hoping not to be out after dark having such little experience with this large of a rig, but the sun definitely had the advantage. We topped a large hill right before dark to see the lights starting to shine in the city below, and the down-slope before us was steep and curvy. Before we knew it, the weight and size of the trailer in combination with the degree of the grade, brought us up to a dangerous speed, and Don struggled to keep the vehicle under control. There were white knuckles all around for the next few minutes, but he managed to get it slowed down enough to breath again. That was one of those ” Wow, I’ll never do that again ” experiences.

We finally pulled in to the RV park about 8:45, with just minutes to spare before they closed, got set up, and then with one eye closed, peeked into the garage to see what awaited us.

To be continued …..

Heather Spencer

Mission Positive Films


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Noble Pursuits

Though we seldom hear about the people and companies that are going to great lengths to make this a better world, they are out there. By chance I ran across this video, and learned about the work being done by a company called Enabling The Future. They are a group of over 3600 members from all over the World that design and make 3D Printed hand devices for those in need. Material costs are around $ 50.00 and all the labor is donated. They also give the plans away so you can print your own device. For more information or to get involved, check out their website or Facebook page.

Film by Charlie Nordstrom

Heather Spencer

Mission Positive Films

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C – A Celebration of Life – On Sale Now

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The Best Laid Plans or … A Study in Murphy’s Law – Part 3

8F30C72C-04A5-4BBA-B29C-7C5FB4FC09A8We 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 …

Heather Spencer

Mission Positive Films

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It Takes a Village

Celebration Tour for Core Commerce Slideshow

I’ve been looking for a theme for next year’s Celebration Tour that encompasses what we are trying to accomplish. What popped into my head is ” It Takes a Village “, which seems more and more fitting as I think through it. Cancer, though a very personal experience, cannot be dealt with alone. It takes a team of medical professionals, and I’m not referring to just to standard Western medicine. Those that are fighting cancer holistically also need a team to help sort through the best course of treatment. But a medical team is just part it, an emotional support system is extremely important; family, friends, social workers, church, psychologists, and support groups. Then there’s the financial side as treatment can be surprisingly expensive, which may involve fundraising, and loans. If you take it to the next level, you have the researchers that are working diligently on new and more effective treatments, and the companies that make and distribute those treatments. Don’t forget the lobbyists that are working on legislation to increase funding for research, and   the government agencies that are working with hospitals and care facilities to try and make sure patients have the best possible care, and on and on. It therefore takes a very large village to fight this horrible disease.

It also takes a village to accomplish what we are trying to do with this tour. Our goal is simply to bring hope to those facing that terrifying diagnosis, and to those that love and support them. By sharing stories of survivorship, introducing products and food that will help during and after treatment, providing massage and Healing Touch, and passing on tips and tricks from those that have gone before, with luck, they’ll leave better able to handle the fight.

We can’t do this alone, it requires those that have the stories to tell, those that have the products to help, and those that will help spread the word for this to work. This is a non monetary event, there are no sponsors, and no funding, it’s just people trying to help other people. If you have anything to contribute, an idea, a person to contact, a place, a survivor who’s picture you’d like to see in the slideshow, a piece of music, anything at all, we’d love to hear it.

The tour starts on Oahu in spring and will continue through the Northwest in summer. If we are successful and are making a difference in peoples lives, we will continue the tour to other parts of the country.

Cities currently on the list are Honolulu, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver BC, Calgary AB, Coeur d’Alene, Missoula, Jackson Hole, Boise, and Bend. We’ll need help and advice in each of these locations. Also, if you feel we should add another city, please let us know. Thank you.

Heather Spencer

Mission Positive Films

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The Best Laid Plans or … A Study in Murphy’s Law – Part 2

We left Honolulu on Sunday night heading for Montana where we were planning to pick up both the truck and trailer, get it setup, and drive it to Oregon for winter storage. We were full of anticipation on our mid afternoon arrival on Monday, ready to start our exciting new adventure. Our truck salesman had graciously offered to pick us up at the airport and carry us to the dealership to take possession of our ” new ” used truck. Our intent was to pick up the truck, go by the sound guy to get our instructions on the back up camera and sensor systems he had installed, and then head to the RV dealership for our walk through on the trailer. We assumed ( there’s that dreaded word again ) that he would be picking us up in our truck, so when he drove up in another vehicle, that uh-oh feeling struck, and sure enough the first thing out of his mouth was, ” Well …. there’s a little bit of a problem.” Apparently, the hitch which had finally come in on Saturday, had come in with some incorrect parts, and the correct ones were being overnighted. Our first thought of course was that we had an instructor coming in from Utah expecting to start a driving lesson first thing Wednesday morning, the next thought was concern about making our flight out of Portland later that week. Without that hitch we were completely stuck.

After a bit of time at the truck dealership, who was kind enough to give us a loaner vehicle, we had just enough time to get by the sound guy’s place, but unfortunately not enough for our RV walk through. Since we didn’t have the truck, not getting the trailer was a non-issue.

We woke up the next morning full of excitement and hope that all the pieces would fall into place, and we’d be official RVers. Expecting to find our trailer all clean, shiny and ready to rumble, we drove into the dealership to find that unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. In fact, it wasn’t any of those. Our walk through found lights out, stove burners not working, generator problems, inverter problems, awning problems, fireplace problems, and of the 3 things extra that we had asked them to do, only 1 had been completed. Needless to say, the entire day was spent at the dealership waiting while they worked to fix the numerous problems. By 2pm the hitch parts were there, and by 5pm, we were in possession of our truck, but the trailer wasn’t even close to being ready. Our instructor had arrived and wanted to get the power point part of the lesson done that evening so we could start the driving portion first thing in the morning. He helped us get the trailer into an RV park for the night, went through the power point, and bid us Good Evening at about 9:30pm. We grabbed a quick bite, headed to WalMart to pick up a few essentials; pillows, towels, soap etc., and finally hit the hay about 2am.

6am came very early, and very cold. We hadn’t learned yet how to work the heater, and one thing most RV’s aren’t, is insulated, burrrrr. After numerous attempts to get the 5th wheel hitch hooked up ( more about that later ), we were on the road. The instructor found a large empty parking area at a school to use for the training which was a fabulous way to get started. Don aced it, he was a natural, and in a couple hours, the instructor took him on the streets for the real challenge of driving with a monster on your tail. By noon, we said our goodbye’s and headed back to the dealership so they could try and finish up the repair work. At the end of the day the lights, fireplace, awning, and stove had been repaired, and they had finished the install of the coffee pot. The generator, and inverter still were not working, and the washlets were not installed, but we were out of time. In order to make our flight, we had to get on the road first thing in the morning. The good news is that we learned about the heater, so we had a very warm and comfortable sleep, something we desperately needed at that point, especially when we had such a big day ahead.

To be continued …

By the way, the video is Don’s first attempt at parallel parking. I was so impressed, I have a hard time doing that with a little car. The man walking by the truck was our driving instructor John Hanson with RV Basic Training. He was a great teacher and a lovely man. We highly recommend this type of training to all our fellow newbies.

Heather Spencer

Mission Positive Films

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The Best Laid Plans or… A Study in Murphy’s Law, RV Style

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Don and our salesman Jerry with our new Winnebago Scorpion and Bighorn

The RV

This goes out to all the folks that are planners. You do your                       Christmas shopping early, you prepare for storms, you file your taxes in February, and you try to make sure all the bases are covered so there are no surprises. Well if you’ve been doing that long enough, you’ve found that sometimes no matter how good the preparation, life has something else in store.

This also goes out to our fellow newbie RVers, who like us, make the assumption that a new trailer will be trouble free.  As in everything else, NEVER make an assumption.

So, flash back to August 3rd in the Montana RV dealership where we are signing our life away to own that gorgeous Winnebago Scorpion that you see in the picture, and are explaining to our salesman ( also in the picture ), that there are a few small changes that we would like to make. He is a wonderful man, who works very hard to take care of his customers, and he tells us that their service department can do anything, that they’re pricey, but highly skilled. So we leave the rig at the dealership assured that we are in great hands.

Same day, a few hours later, we have found the perfect tow vehicle, a Dodge Bighorn 3500 Diesel Dually, ( also in the picture ). It’s used, but with only 15, 000 miles it looked brand new, and the former owner had the tracking already installed for the fifth wheel hitch we needed to tow the trailer.  The sales manager, being very accommodating, said he would contact the former owner to see if he would be willing to sell the hitch portion, or if not, then he would find us one. Since he knew what type of trailer we were pulling, we again felt confident everything would work out perfectly. So back to Hawaii we went to plan the “move trip”.

The “move trip” was set up to get the rig ready for the 2016 summer Celebration Tour, and to move it from Montana, to winter storage in Oregon, where the summer trip will kick off.  We set the trip for the end of September to allow time for the dealership to complete the extra work we had requested, and to give the Dodge folks time to find the hitch. All in all over 7 weeks.

I sent the list of requested alterations of the trailer with the product links to the RV dealership shortly after we returned to Hawaii.               Because we are newbies and this is such a large rig, we wanted to make sure we had all the safety bells and whistles we could afford. So the first two items on the list were to install a backup camera system, and backup sensors for the trailer. We went with Rear View Safety’s 4 Camera System with a quad monitor that’s mounted in the tow vehicle. There are 2 side cameras, and 2 rear cameras. We were actually able to use only one of the backup cameras due to the limitations of a Toy Hauler, but I have to tell you, it’s awesome ! I can’t imagine trying to handle that beast without these. Side note for anyone thinking about this type of a system, the harness they sent only had 3 ports, so make sure you order a harness with 4 ports. The sensor system had 4 sensors that mounted along the lower back of the trailer and start beeping about 5′ from an object, and just like the ones on cars, the beeping gets louder as you get closer. Very handy !

The third item on the list will probably sound strange to most of you, but we wanted to have washlets ( mini bidets ) mounted to each            toilet. We bought one for our master bathroom when Don was going through his cancer treatments, and it was a lifesaver, so it was a must for extended living in the RV.  Also, the septic systems in RV’s tend to be very sensitive, so having something that will minimize the amount of toilet paper going into the system is a win win. After doing some research, I found a great little system that another RVer had used that was reasonably priced.

The fourth was a built in coffee pot. There isn’t a great deal of counter space in the unit, so having a coffee pot taking up such valuable space didn’t make sense, but a built in seemed the perfect choice, and it has an inline so you never have to fill the water tank, it’s automatic, woohoo.

Finally, there is a glass sliding door that separates the main cabin from the garage. This was Winnebago’s prototype unit, and for some reason they had the door moving left to right, making you squeeze through a smaller opening, ( on their later versions they changed it to a right to left ), so we asked to have it changed. One other benefit to doing that is it left a great space to make a pantry, which also was not included in this unit.

Through many Emails and phone calls, we finally got a price the last week of August for the labor portion of the work, and notification that it was scheduled for the 1st and 2nd of September.  Since we were not picking it up until the 28th, everything was great. As far as the hitch, we had good news there as well, the dealership had found a used one and was negotiating the price.

On September 1st, I got a call from the RV folks saying they weren’t comfortable installing the cameras or sensors, but had found a sound guy that would do it, and I could call him to make arrangements. The sound guy seemed very knowledgeable, but also very busy, as he couldn’t fit us in until the 23rd. Oh well, at least we were still within our time frame, but it also meant coordinating with the Dodge folks to get the truck over there ( with the hitch ), and the RV folks to get the trailer there.

By the 15th of September, we got word from the Dodge folks that they had successfully negotiated a good price on the hitch and it would be installed on the vehicle in time. I replied how thankful I was for all their help, and just making sure that it was strong enough to handle this rig. I didn’t hear back, so ” assumed ” all was well.

On the morning of the 22nd, I called both dealerships to verify the vehicles would be dropped off to the sound guy that day, and was happy to hear everything was on schedule. A few hours later, I got       ” the call “. The sound guy asked why the truck had been dropped off without the hitch. After a few seconds of confusion, I called the dealership to find out that the hitch they’d been negotiating to buy, was not strong enough to handle the trailer, and that they had ordered one, ( interestingly enough from our RV dealership ), but it hadn’t arrived yet, and they were hoping they’d have it in time for the sound guy to finish his work.

On the morning of the 23rd, I again got ” the call “. The camera                system that had originally been sent to the RV folks in mid August, and then delivered with the trailer, was missing 2 of the 4 cameras. Of everything on our list, this system was by far the most important, as it dealt directly with the safety of driving the rig, especially for a beginner. Fortunately, the company we bought it from, B & H Photo, was great, and overnighted a new system out literally, just in the nick of time, but still no hitch.

The last piece of this house of cards, was our driving lesson. We signed up for an RV Driving Course to cover the basics before we       ” hit the road “. This is by far the best advice we can give another newbie, it’s worth every penny. It was basically a 1 day course that covered a power point presentation and in the truck driving skills. The closest instructor that could accommodate our time frame was in Utah, so we had travel expenses, but he only charged his out of pocket costs. We had scheduled him for the 29th, the day after we got there, but as of the 25th, the hitch still had not arrived. He graciously allowed us to change our lesson to the 30th, after being assured that we would have the hitch on the truck by then.

The last work day before we flew out to Montana, I called the RV folks to make sure they had completed the washlet install, coffee pot install, and sliding door change, as these were the only items left on their list.  At that point, they had changed the door, but had not yet finished the other two. They assured me that it would be done and ready for pickup when we arrived on Monday.

On Sunday night, we boarded the plane to Montana knowing that we didn’t have a clue what we would find when we got there.

To be continued…..

Heather Spencer

Mission Positive Films

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