Have you ever researched something, planned something out and thought, Yeah, I’ve got this! Only to find out you don’t “got this”? That happened to us on our inaugural adventure with Katy the Kamper.
Since we got the RV fever, we’ve been researching campers, reading blogs by RVers, watching YouTube videos, and asking friends who RV for advice. Oh, we knew we weren’t seasoned pros, but thought we had at least covered most of our bases as we headed out for our first trip. Well, life isn’t perfect and neither was our first camper trip experience!
Since the kids were working or spending the Christmas holiday with the other side of the family, we decided to take the new rig out for an inaugural adventure! 10 nights, three state parks, two camp fires and a rain storm; what could possibly go wrong?!
It’s been a long standing joke, when we go camping it rains and this trip was proving to be no different. On the fourth night of camping a storm was predicted to blow through. We kept an eye on the weather alerts, watched the radar and sure enough, we began to hear rain drops on the camper. After years of tent camping and things getting wet, it was awesome to go inside and stay dry while the rain pitter-pattered on the roof. However, suddenly it was no longer a gentle pitter-patter, the noise grew loud and the rain drops sounded much more like rocks. Hail?! Yes! On our brand new camper, on our first trip. Fortunately, it was small and didn’t last long and there was no damage to the camper or the truck. What did we learn from this? Expect the unexpected, always pay attention to your surroundings. Thanks to weather apps and cell service we knew to expect a storm and had taken precautions (awning in, things outside put away, etc). When we pay attention to our surroundings it saves us worry and damage. Go ahead, apply that to everyday life – notice the difference it makes to pay attention and expect the unexpected.
No, the camper’s not on fire, Renetta’s cooking!
The camper still had that brand new smell. Well, I fixed that! Normally, I am a fairly good cook and don’t burn things on my average cooking day, so what happened was truly a surprise, and not a very good one either. We had learned from our months in the tiny house in our driveway, camper ovens do not cook evenly, they burn the bottom and leave the top raw. Taking the advice of those who have forged ahead of us, we put a baking stone in the oven to evenly distribute the heat. It was Christmas eve and we were having steak, baked potatoes and roasted asparagus. Baking a potato, easy, right? You would think. I turned on the oven and 20 minutes later smoke was billowing out of the oven, the smoke detector was screaming and my eyes were burning! Turns out, the baking stone, having been used in the big house several times, had something (oil?) on it and it was smoking like a chimney! I had to remove the baking stone, I set it outside so no more smoke would fill the camper. It was too cool outside and it cracked. Good riddance. What did we learn from this? If baking stones are going to be used to distribute heat, they need to be clean! We are now searching for a new, CLEAN baking stone to go in the oven! We also learned that burned, smoky smell doesn’t dissipate very quickly!
Chock. Chock it again.
This particular lesson will not be repeated because it hit us in the wallet and we all know money speaks loudly. We were stopped in Bastrop State Park and setting up for a few days stay. As the trailer was disconnected from the truck it rolled slightly, and bent the front stabilizer jack. As we searched for the cause of this we realized we had only chocked one side of the trailer. Chock, chock both sides BEFORE you disconnect from the trailer. Yes, I know, some of you are shaking your heads at how we could have made this mistake. Because we were both working on this project, I thought J had done it, he thought I had done it, it happens. What did we learn from this? $282 for two new front stabilizer jacks later, make a check list and follow it! Now we double check and double chock! Both sides of the trailer have chocks to keep it from rolling and X-chocks to further stabilize the tires.
After 5 days on the road and learning from our mistakes, we had settled into a good routine and the trip was peaceful. When you let your guard down, you have another learning opportunity! We travelled from Junction, TX to Brady, TX on our way to meet our kids for New Year’s. As we approached Brady, J mentioned the camper brakes didn’t feel as jerky as they had before. In Brady, at a stoplight on the town square, J quickly hops out of the truck, runs behind it, runs back and jumps in before the light turned green. I asked why the firedrill? Yeah, about that…..the lights and brakes weren’t plugged in! ! Sorry to all those behind us that didn’t know if we were turning left or right! When we took off from the redlight, we could feel the camper brakes tugging! What did we learn from this? Remember that checklist I said to create? Create it and follow it!
Overall, the inaugural adventure was a great experience with a few learned lessons! The checklist is created and we are following it! And the biggie for me? The rain and hail storm sealed the deal; camper lifestyle is much more comfortable and dry than the tent!