10 Things We've Learned "Driving Down a Dream"
A surge protector is NEVER a bad idea! Sure, it’s yet another prep expense. Sure, you believed the Amazon review from a 20 year full-time veteran that said you don’t need one. Sure, it’s alarming to wake to a burning smell and explosion from the RV park power breaker box on your first night “Driving Down a Dream.” Wait. Wah? Yup, folks. It happened. And you can only imagine the second thoughts we experienced in our fatigued stupor that fateful first night.
Size does matter. Knowing the width of your RV AFTER the slides are extended and BEFORE you’ve stabilized, leveled, and unhitched your fifth wheel is helpful! Sometimes those pesky power boxes, trees, and other immovable objects inhibit full extension.
Dumping is a crappy job! Use a clear elbow, they say. You need to know when your black tank is properly flushed, they say. No words needed to describe the sewer contents coming out of your “house.” Prior to “Driving Down a Dream” I didn’t give the logistics of this full-time RV life aspect much thought. Six people produce a lot of waste! And as a result, we know a lot more about water conservation and being open to using the restrooms and showers provided at places we stay.
You CAN live without, and be OKAY. The first 3 weeks on the road our microwave and hot water heater were busted. We couldn’t get on an RV warranty-repair schedule until Illinois! We warmed a lot of water for cleaning & dishes on the stove or in our electric kettle. We showered at the RV parks OR we had cold showers. In our current day-to-day living we do NOT have a dishwasher, garbage disposal, washer & dryer, or cable TV. My kids have been more successful at adapting and thriving than myself. Please bless these small sacrifices produce angelically grateful and resourceful children forever and ever, amen.
4 minute showers are possible. Nightly rates at RV resorts or KOA’s start to add up. State parks can be an affordable alternative. The hook-up and amenities vary incredibly. Most state parks offer shower houses. Some shower houses are coin-operated. Four quarters gives you a warm, 4 minute shower. Additional quarters, additional time. But, when your quarter supply is running low and laundry needs to be done it IS possible to have a lovely shower AND shave your legs in 4 minutes. Yep, I’m awesome.
Any former experience with yoga is beneficial. I refuse to let my bare feet touch the ground in a public shower stall. Call it OCD, I don’t care. And thankfully, my family feels the same. We all have “shower shoes.” So when you need to get dressed and you want to keep your clothes dry and off the filthy ground, balance is key. Find your Zen. The standing leg extension is your friend.
Laundromats are a special kind of awesome. It’s been eons since my college days and so my reintroduction to Laundromats was met with a bleach incident (minus MTV’s The Real World marathon). Turns out, reading instructions is a bonus. If you want to add bleach, wait until the button lights up. If you want to add fabric softener, wait until the button lights up. Laundromats are awkward. I prefer to not stand & wait for all the right button-lighting-moments. I throw everything in (no bleach, no fabric softener), cross fingers that nothing bleeds, and put my nose in my phone so no one thinks I’m watching them fold their unmentionables. Small square footage means I can’t let the dried laundry pile up on my bed to be thrown on the floor and folded another day. Since we want to keep Laundromat time to a minimum, laundry usually becomes a family effort. Unless, I’m REALLY desperate for some alone time.
You're a RV-Driving-Bad-Ass if your name is Mr. Jeff Farnsworth. It was a white-knuckle drive up a very small, 2-lane, 19% grade dirt road to get to our reserved spot in a Colorado State Park. I still have heart palpitations thinking about some of the turns we made with cliff-like drops to one side. It was the Rocky Mountains after all. I chose to just close my eyes towards the end. The anxiety was too much! Shaken, we checked in at the Ranger Station. We asked for recommendations for local attractions and grocery stores. As a point of reference, she pulled out a map and explained where she thought we entered the park. Um, nope. “I don’t remember that gas station,” I replied. “Uh...well you have to pass it on your way into the park,” the Ranger said. I squint my eyes at the map, “No, we came up THAT road.” “Oh, you couldn’t have driven up that road. It’s impossible & forbidden with a trailer,” said the perplexed Ranger. Smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave. Because we did come up the forbidden road. GPS led us astray, but Jeff got us up the mountain like a boss.
(The map we received at the Ranger Station. Thanks, GPS.)
A forgiving partner is a bonus. I’m not saying that a single-parent couldn’t survive a road schooling adventure. I’m saying it requires immense amounts of teamwork – whoever that may be. The logistics of towing, reversing a big rig, hitching, RV set up, and road trip planning, require A LOT of communication. In those moments of MIScommunication and frustration we’ve wanted to deck each other in the face, but thankfully we hug it out and are stronger for enduring this adventure together.
More than 5 hours of travel time is dangerous – mostly to the psyche. I think all new roadschoolers make the same mistake…traveling too fast. In the first couple of days, our 4-year-old asked the classic, “Are we there yet?” every 10 minutes. The long road trips have conditioned him to jump into the truck and now ask, “How many hours?” Road tripping is exhausting. The electronic devices, music, books on cd, pretend play, the ABC game, etc. only get you so far. And then the noise level, boredom, and cabin fever take over.