Sunday, September 11, 2016

5 Hour Trip...or 3 Hour Tour!

First Night!
As we pulled out of the driveway of our beautiful home in Maine around 9:00 am  on a humid but exciting Wednesday morning (only 30 minutes off schedule) I waved good-bye to our familiar surroundings, sat back in my navigator/co-pilot seat and settled in for a 5 hour trip to Beaver Spring Lake Campground, New York.  Well, not exactly.  Let me add at the outset that I have a great relationship with my husband.  When things happen we kick into gear and handle them.  Yes, I may be the one to blurt out a colorful explicative now and again or bark at my husband, "That's YOUR job to check the gas gauge in the car!" but generally, and I am glad for that, we get along in times of difficulty very well, thank you very much.  And, what I love the most about us is that we generally laugh when we reflect back on crazy things that happen and wonder how we could change what we did and might do going forward.  If this trip is going to be anything, I have already learned that it will be full of the unexpected.  And so we need to be wide open and ready with good humor and intelligence (yikes!) as we tour this beautiful county of ours.  

Our first stop on our first morning on the road was Camper's Inn in New Hampshire for a quick 10:00 am appointment and to pick up a few things.  We had called the day before to alert our wonderful and generously helpful salesman  (and we found out at the end of the day what a truly great guy he is).  We needed a couple of chock locks (this is what prevents you from rolling down the hill madly once unhooked from the Titan, the big truck we have connected to Mini).  We also needed a 30 amp surge protector so we don't blow all our fuses should Campground WannaBanna experience of surge of electricity through it's system and fry all our fuses which are needed for nearly everything to run.  In addition, we wanted some direction on our audio visual system (it would be nice to watch a movie I can access on my Amazon Prime! and have audio; I got the video down but not the audio...where is my friend Vince!).  And finally, on our list was an extra set of keys (where did that second set go we asked each other as we packed and re-packed the morning of our launch?).  Importantly, we wanted Camper's Inn to fix a loud and annoying chirping we heard when we unhooked the trailer from the electrical power as we set off on our grand adventure just that morning.  Mini was hooked up into the side of our house for days, but once we unplugged her she immediately began an incessant and ear-piercing beeping.  Mini is brand new so we assumed nothing big could be wrong.  Right?

Around noon, we had been, unexpectedly ("What is taking so long??? we wondered),  at Camper's Inn for 2 hours.  We waited patiently in our car - Ken playing Angry Birds on his phone and me, e-mailing yoga folks regarding a new yoga therapy client.  We had already purchased our chock locks, an extra blank key, a new pry bar (oops...forgot that at home but now we have a spare!) all stowed away (they didn't have the surge protector so that's still on the list), but no camper was hooked up to our truck as 12:00 pm rolled around.  Finally, Ken finally went in the store to see what was taking so long and they welcomed him, "Hey, Mr. Markley, where have you been?"  Oh boy....Mini had been ready for over an hour.  Note to self.  When the camper is being worked on, stay in the "waiting room" area, visible to Camper's Inn staff; don't hang out patiently in the truck.  Wanting to know why Mini was beeping, Ken spent time talking with the guys who worked on her, "She's fine.  She didn't beep," they told him.  Isn't that what always happens when you take your car to the mechanic because of that noise that makes you think the bottom is falling out of your car?  The mechanic tells you, "We don't hear a noise at all."   Both the mechanic and the lady behind the counter  swore the chronic beeping problem had something to do with the polarization in the outlet on the outside of our house.  They claimed Mini didn't get powered up because the outlet wasn't "polarized" properly.  So, I still don't really get what polarization of an outlet is but it was the comment that finally convinced my husband that that was likely the cause of the high-pitched and irritating noise (turns out it's an LP or gas detector easily triggered, as I found doing some online research by all kinds of gas...including farts and smells associated with a "new" camper).   Although they argued with conviction, Camper's Inn was not right.  It wasn't a "polarization" problem because as I edit this on Sunday morning in Toledo, Mini is chirping away like a little sparrow ("We cannot leave Ohio until that is fixed," I tell my husband..."No kidding!") .   In any event, around noon we re-connected a then-quiet Mini (checked first that the electrical was plugged in, that the bars were all set in the tow connection, that all the doors were all locked, that the steps are up) and headed out on our excellent adventure.  

Cranky fuse
Two hours in, so now it's about 2:00 pm, we all had to pee and I wanted to put the sliced ham we ate for an on-the-road lunch into the refrigerator.   We pulled into a truck stop (these "service areas" are all along the toll roads), drove around to the back following the signs for trailers and trucks (that's new!) where the giant semis all pull in to get dieseled up....we looked like a little ant in the land of giants back there!  I hopped out to pee as did Ken, making our way into the expansive store/bathroom/hamburger complex.  Glancing at our "rig"  Ken noticed that Mini was not fully plugged into the truck.  There is a big black connector that gives battery power to Mini from the truck and that had come loose in our travel.  "Oh," I comment to Ken when he tells me this, "so maybe that's why that guy way back there was honking at us when we used the indicator to merge onto the toll road?"  We just thought he was annoyed by how slow we were as we put on our blinker and merged onto I-90 but we are guessing now that he was honking because from his perspective, we probably slid right into his lane, not only slowly but blinkerlessly.  No battery power to RV means no brakes, no blinkers, no lights on Mini.  Ken plugged in the giant black plug and we were good to go....well not really. 

After I visited the bathroom (wow, they have "Trucker Showers" in there!) I came back to the RV to put the cold cuts away before we took off again.  I leveraged myself  up and into Mini (yes, I could have put the steps down but this was quicker) to slide the bump-out just a hair so I could have access to the refrigerator.  We have a giant bump-out which makes our 21 foot trailer so roomy but when it slides back into the trailer there is a narrow little space between it and the sink and it completely hides the refrigerator.  Sliding the bump-out out was easy.  I put away the ham and then, as I pushed the button to slide it back in it moved for a brief moment and then....NOTHING.  Click, click, click I pushed on the button.  There was NO movement.  OK, rule number one is that you cannot drive down the interstate at 60 mph with your RV when your bump-out is not fully in and locked.  I could just imagining us merrily chugging along as we hit a bump in the road, and bam, the slide-out fully extends, destroying the trailer as we tip over from the imbalance of it all or maybe that whole piece would just snap off?, sending us and the dog to the ER and therein ending our adventure before it even begins.  What to do?  "I'm calling Bob at Camper's Inn," I tell my husband.  'No," he barks, "they probably think we are idiots already."  The comment about idiots was because Ken never really bought into the polarization problem with our house power outlet.  Now, my husband has built houses, taught math at the university and is a man who knows what he is talking about.  As it turns out, Mini has continued to beep when not plugged in so Ken was right but on that Wednesday in New Hampshire at Camper's Inns with our limited experience, we may have looked and sounded like idiots but I like to think of us as camping neophytes...we will learn.  Anyway, back to our we wait about 30 minutes  (me going back and forth between the air conditioned truck and the stuffy RV to see if I could slide that bump-out back in).  As we moved into the second 1/2 hour and loving my husband sincerely I decided to take things into my own hands, "I don't care if they DO think of us as idiots we do not know what to do and here we are in the back forty of a service plaza somewhere in Massachusetts, on day one of our trip."  So,  while Olive wonders what in the world is going on, and literally standing on alert (vs. lying comfortably in the back seat on her two doggie pillows), I dial Bob at Camper's Inn.  Thankfully, he answers, and I am so relieved but not completely convinced he wanted to hear from us again, the crazy people from Maine who are having so much trouble just getting road-bound on their first day.

 "Bob, when we stopped, we noticed that we didn't have our power hooked up from the RV to the truck and now the bump-out will not retract.   We have waited 30 minutes and still we cannot re-tract the slide-out."  Bob deduced although we may have not had power, that was not the slide-out-slide-in problem we were facing, parked behind the semis on I-90 at a truck stop on our first day of our big trip.  Bob insisted it was a fuse.  I know what a fuse looks like, this seems easy, I think.  I have flipped those little levers in the basement more than once at home when I try to use the lights, heater, and hair dryer all at once in the upstairs bathroom.  He sent us first into the trailer and we looked at the fuse panel (there are some where around 9,000 different kinds of trailers I have come to learn and no 2 are alike in much of any way).  No fuse was going the wrong way, so no fuse had been tripped.  When we read all the labels aloud for each fuse, not a single one of them, to our surprise, indicated "Slide-Out" or "Bump-Out."  We did see fuse buttons for "Refrigerator" and "A/C" but no fuse for the immobile bump-out.  "OK," Detective and Sent-from-A-Higher-Being Bob advises us next, "you have to get under the RV."  "What??"  I say to him and my husband.  Now, I have an intelligent, kind, loving and loyal husband who I once went to a yoga class with and the instructor said, laughing, "You two are a yoga teacher's nightmare. You (pointing to me as I bent over and put my palms on the floor) are like a Gumby.  While you (pointing to my husband as he bent over as far as he could and his arms were level with his waist) are a yoga teacher's nightmare!"  Wonderful husband has a knee that won't bend, an ankle in need of major reconstruction, and a fake hip.  I knew that during this trip I would be the one crawling up that little black ladder to the roof to brush off the bump-out before we retracted it.  And, at that moment, I knew it would be me crawling under the RV.   Not one to panic in a problem situation (hey I can handle a teenager who is taking off all his clothes in a fit under the table at a middle school - my former life - with ease and calm), my husband asks me as I get ready to lay on my back on the concrete that smells like urine,  "Do you want something to put under you?"  "Yes that would help!"  So we open the back door to the truck where Olivia was still standing at the ready.  As I grabbed one of her bedding pillows she  looked at me like, "Now what every do you think YOU are doing with my bed?"  And then for about 30 minutes, in the heat, still in Massachusetts so we hadn't gone even 1/2 way to our first campground on day one of a very long adventure, with the stinky smell, the roar of semi's downshifting as they roll in to gas up and our apparent location being under the end of a military airport runway with very loud airplanes landing every 4-5 minutes, I am trying to listen to Bob as he patiently directs me to find the fuse.  Laying on my dog's bed under the RV I calmly tell Bob, "I just don't see it".  Getting frustrated and having absolutely no clue what I was looking at after about 20 minutes, however, I let the F-bomb fly out of my mouth as I hit my head.  "OK, I see a metal box.  Yes I am following the red and black wires..." I try to stay focused on problem solving.  "No.  No metal.  It's a cap on a wire," he tries to tell me what I am looking for.  I am clueless.  "We are going to have to be towed!"  I tell him, completely convinced and now beginning to freak out just a little bit, that we are are going to be calling AAA and using that supplemental RV towing insurance I bought (and thank the heavens for that little expense I thought to myself!).  "No, no, I have changed this a number of times and I know this is your problem,"  Detective Bob persists.  And then that wonderful man went out into the RV yard, got under an RV just like our temporarily impaired little Mini and told me exactly what to look for, "Look for the red plastic box on a red wire."  Well,  wait, we got disconnected at right about that time "Bob, Bob, can you hear me?" and yet our Savior Bob called me back (he could have just wished us luck and gone for coffee).  "Got it!  Ken, come here, open this thing and check the fuse," I yelled to Ken.  " Take a fuse from another the fuse panel," Bob continues to help us (yikes, what?).   However, and luckily we were are at that loud and stinky truck stop so Ken knew he could go back into the store portion of the giant complex we were marooned at and purchase a 30 amp fuse telling me, "I was going to get a package of these when we hit Toledo."  Well, that was good thinking!  
Now, what do you think this is?

All I can say is what a first day....oh, and we flew right by the campground in Davenport, NY when we finally arrived from our 5-hour trip at 6:30 pm (so leaving at 9:00 am that was actually a NINE hour trip).  We had to go several miles down the road to turn around (turning around is a much bigger, literally, deal when you are towing 21 feet of trailer behind you), and once we unhooked Mini from the Titan she started beeping AGAIN (but we, yes, the two of us figured out that the problem was that you had to re-set the LP (gas) monitor so we pushed that button in and Mini silenced...more on that later because as she sits in the cul-de-sac in Toledo she is beeping away!).  In an event, we were lucky Angel Bob at Camper's Inn was there to help us via phone, luckily we were at a truck stop when we needed a fuse (Namaste to whatever great power lined that all up), and most lucky (and most grateful) our ice maker (thank you for that recommendation Deb and Jay) worked like magic once we finally set up camp as the sun set and we sipped a cocktail under the most beautiful clear and starry night sky in Davenport, New York, relaxing in our new zero gravity recliners.

Can't wait to see what day two holds in store for us as we make our way to Randolph, New York!

Unexpectedly beautiful New York State!


  1. Great read. Glad you didn't have to be towed. I see a book taking formation.

  2. Just taking it one event at a time!