My husband, Mike, had gotten us a great deal on our very first travel trailer-type camper. He always gets a great deal but you just might have to drive a little distance to make the deal. In this case, our newest purchase was in Owatonna, Minnesota. We live in Leavenworth, Ks so this is about a 6 hour drive. The negotiations had been made, we were excited to pick her up and discussing what weekend we could leave and do this. My husband is a battalion chief for the local fire department and doesn’t have every weekend off. As we start discussing this on a Thursday night, we discover we should leave tomorrow as this is the only weekend he has off for the next several weeks. We will be leaving tomorrow (Friday) after I get off work. We decided we would drive 4-5 hours, stay in a hotel, then drive the rest of the way Saturday morning (4/12/14). We would stay in our new camper on the drive home. My job was to find the hotel and Mike needed to find us a campsite. I better get moving! I have to pack and plan our route. Now for some of you this would not be a big deal. For me… big, big deal. I am a planner! I like to have everything in place, hotels booked, visits planned, before we go anywhere. This was extremely spontaneous for me. I rushed around like mad gathering clothes, iPad, chargers, shoes, etc. I had enough stuff for a week, let alone 2 nights. Oh well, I was just throwing stuff in a bag. I wanted to be ready to go when I got home from work the next night.
The drive was long and uneventful to our hotel, about 5 hours. We were whooped and ready for bed. We were up and about the next morning fresh and ready to become RVers. The folks at the sales center were extremely nice however I’m still having trouble getting over the fact that our salesperson greeted us and told me I was robbing the cradle! I am a few years older than Mike but still… wow. It will kind of blow your whole excitement to have that thrown in your face. Anyway, they spent a great deal of time going over every detail of the exterior and interior of the camper with us. They explained what everything did, what noise it will make, how to maintain it, do this but don’t ever do that and on and on. I was taking notes like mad! I couldn’t keep up and half the time didn’t know what he was talking about and hoping Mike did. After many hours there, we were on our way. Mike has booked a campsite in Story City, IA and we have a few hours of driving ahead of us. We’re hearing there may be storms but we’re too excited. We stop at a Walmart on the way out of town to get some dinner to grill, a small grill :), some other supplies and a bottle of wine to celebrate.
We make it to the campsite. I’m a little concerned as we pull in as it appears some of these campers are permanent and have been here a very long time. They are also crammed in like sardines to their spaces. There’s barely enough room for a picnic table between them. It’s okay. It’s only one night. Ugh. Mike comes back from the little house with the info. We pull around past the permanents and find a great spot towards the back. There’s nobody around us. Perfect! We are so excited to hook everything up and get things put away. We weren’t fully prepared on this trip but we will make do. Yay!!
We get everything put away, all hooked up, everything is in working order. We open the wine, pour each of us a glass and give a toast at the picnic table outside. This is great!! I love it. We aren’t sitting there 5 minutes and we hear the thunder and see the lightning. This really isn’t happening, right? Dangit!! We go inside and sip on our wine while the wind blows ferociously, the rain is coming down in sheets, and the hail is pelting us. What are you gonna do? At least we’re not in a tent and the camper is nice and cozy. The rain never stops and eventually we end up cooking our dinner on the stove inside. Camping is great! We call it a night and get to bed.
We awake in the morning feeling refreshed. Let’s plug in that coffee pot we bought at Walmart. I cannot do without my coffee in the morning. Wow, that cord is really short. I guess I’m going to have to put it on the floor. Okay, not ideal but this works. Put extension cord on the ever-growing list of things we need. We make some breakfast and start packing up. Mike is very concerned that we may get stuck with all the rain we had last night. We see a fella in a big truck with his large camper behind him come around and they are going to take the site next to ours. What is he doing? He’s pulling way down beyond the gravel site area into the grass. I guess he’s going to pull down in there and then back up into his area. ?? Well, I guess he’s not. He’s stuck! Yikes. That makes me very concerned. This fella decides that’s where his is staying as he gets some wooden boards to put under the wheels. We get all packed up and unhooked. We both get in the truck, look at each other, I cross my fingers and close my eyes. She’s moving, moving, and… yes, we’re out of here. Thank goodness. Back on the road.
We drive in rain and wind the entire way home. It’s ridiculous. We stop at a service area that has a dump station. This is what people don’t like to talk about when you have a camper. It’s disgusting but this is what makes the entire camping experience great for me. I can go to the bathroom in my own house! (so to speak). I don’t have to watch for spiders, bugs, nasty bathrooms that smell horrible. This is the best part of the camper – the bathroom! I told my husband I would never have anything to do with the maintenance or cleaning or dumping or whatever you do with them and he was fine with that. He would take care of it. Isn’t he great?! Mike would like to dump this stuff when there’s a break in the rain so we wait a little bit in the truck. He finally decides there will not be a break in the rain and he’s going to have to do this in a downpour. I decide I’ll step in the camper and see if anything has shifted around. Mike steps in with me. We look around. Yeah, everything looks pretty good. Okay, we are going to get out. Mike, open the door. He’s rattling the door and has a panicked look on his face. He can’t get out. The door won’t open. It’s locked. What!? Check the other door. No, it’s locked too. We never unlocked it. WTH! OMG! We’re stuck in our own stinkin’ camper. No, this can’t be. Now, how embarrassing is this? How did they say we pull out those windows in case of a fire to get out of here? Mike keeps playing with the door and it opens! Huge sigh of relief from both of us. Let’s get the heck out of here.
We make it home, get her parked in the drive, and unload our cargo. Pretty exciting first trip. I can’t wait to go again. We have been making and re-making lists of items, having packages delivered like crazy from Amazon, and stocking every necessity that we think we might need. Isn’t it crazy that you didn’t need near this much stuff when you’re tenting it? It will be so great not to have to pack up all this stuff every time we want to hit the road. I’m so looking forward to that. We will be leaving the very next Friday for our next trip. This one has been very well planned and thought out (just like I like it!). We are rookies. It’s okay. It will be fun learning all this together. I’m sure we’ll make some bonehead mistakes along the way. It’s okay as long as we’re having fun while we’re doing it and making some memories. Pomme de Terre Lake here we come!