7 Lessons We Learned on Our First Night in Our RV: Part 2
In part 1 of this post we shared some of the details surrounding the initial delivery and set-up of our RV on our first night of living the full-time RV lifestyle. If you haven't yet read it, you can find it here. If you already read that initial post, grab a snack, kick up your feet, and enjoy a laugh or two as you join us on the continuation of what proved to be an adventure of a first night in our RV. Without further ado, the remaining lessons we learned our first night in our RV...
Lesson 4: A Walk-Through of your RV when taking possession is a must.
Well, I didn’t have to sit in the car for too long before Jon came back to report that our front door was open. Imagine finally walking into the RV after the long day we had! But before I could get too excited, I realized I had walked into more darkness. And it was hot and stuffy, no I mean HOT. I would say it felt as if this brand new RV had never had it’s AC run, or a window cracked, and had spent the entirety of its day under the sun as it drove from Ohio to Georgia, which of course was the case. Well my first instinct was to open a window. Naturally, in the dark, and never having had a proper walk-through, it was anyone’s guess as to which windows opened, and how to get them to do so. Looking back some of the difficulty (I know you must be thinking how hard can it be to open a window) was probably due to how “sticky” things can be when they are brand new, and the fact that the blinds were still tied down in the closed position from the dealer lot. We were also exhausted which likely only heightened how disorienting the dark, even lit by flashlight, was (see Lesson 3, it just kept on giving!).
After figuring out that the LED lights work off grid, and cracking a window, AC was still a very pressing problem. We needed to find our power cord, another helpful piece of information that would be provided during a walk-through. Jon was sure our RV brought one, it was just a matter of figuring out where it might be hiding (in the dark). A walk-through would also include a tour of your RV, complete with all the storage areas it has. We were unable to find the power cord anywhere in the RV. There was a compartment door on the side of our RV (the RV “basement”) that the keys wouldn’t open. Jon assessed the situation, and seemed to come to the conclusion that he could best figure everything out if I went back into the truck, and tried to take another nap with the dogs and cat. Back to the truck I went.
As soon as I went back into the truck, Jon began to give himself a self-guided walk-through of the RV in the dark. So, our recommendation is that you make sure you receive a proper walk-through of your RV from your dealership (or the seller, if you are buying used) before you attempt to camp in it.
Lesson 5: Move into your RV before you camp in it.
Finally, at 3am, Jon came to get me. We had AC, and the RV was now livable! We could not have been happier. We were so happy that we did not think too much of the fact that we were going to sleep on a mattress with its plastic cover still on and no pillows. We were so tired that it did not matter. Jon, myself, our 2 dogs, and the cat all happily went to sleep atop our plastic-covered mattress.
Some people (smart people) have their RV parked in their driveway (or someone’s driveway), and they move into it (usually in the daylight) prior to trying to live in it, much like you would a house. We highly recommend moving all of your belongings and essentials like pillows, blankets, utensils, etc. into your RV prior to reaching your first campsite.
But what happened between the time Jon sent me back to the truck and 3am? Well, Jon spent the time trying out all of the keys, locating all of the switches, and exploring every nook and cranny of the RV. One nook our RV has is under-the-bed storage. Upon lifting the mattress and surveying that storage space with a flashlight, Jon noticed that the storage space passed through to another compartment. And there, in that compartment, lay the Power Cord! You would think that would be the end of it. Access that compartment, plug in the power cord, and done! But no…
As Jon plugged the power cord into the RV and stretched the cord to the post, the defect this site had made itself apparent (though we would not really grasp this completely until morning’s light). The Power Cord did NOT reach!
Something was off… Site 5 was not a back-in site. It was a “pull-through” site. We parked our RV so that the awning side (the side with your door) was facing the grass as opposed to the road. Normally, this is how it works. If it is not a “back-in” site, it is a “pull-through” site, and these are nearly always set up so that your awning side is facing the grass, the grill, the picnic table, your campfire ring, etc. That being the case, the post with hook-ups is then on the side facing the campground road. In the dark, we had managed to figure out where the grass, picnic table etc. was, and, of course, had parked so that our awning side was facing the grass. After more than a year of travel, and 27 states, this is the ONLY site we have ever encountered where your awning-side/camping side was literally on the road.
That being the case, the power cord was traveling extra distance under our RV to make its way to the hook up post. Add to that the fact that Jon hadn’t parked the RV in a position where the power pedestal and our RV power cord connection were perfectly aligned, and naturally it was not reaching. Luckily, we had our box of shiny new RV “must-haves”. Along with water filters, sewer hoses, lights, etc. we had a “dogbone” adapter. This adapter is used to convert 50 amp power to 30 amp power. Well, Jon needed the power cord to be a bit longer as it couldn’t reach the 30 amp plug on the post. He remembered the adapter and pulled it out of the box. What if he could connect the adapter to our 30 amp cord, and then connect the adapter to the 50 amp plug on the hook-up post?! It worked! Our Power Cord was stretched to the max, so much so that it was suspended in mid-air!
To those waking the next morning, our campsite must have been quite a sight to see.They would have seen a shiny new RV, still hitched to a truck, parked backwards, with its power cord making its way over from the wrong side to the hook up post, stretched taut, and hanging on for dear life.
We certainly we did not use the "dogbone" adapter as it’s intended that first night, but it made all the difference. We did do one thing right, we went out, and bought all of our RV starter gear and RV “must-haves” ahead of time. We also had these items organized in one easy to reach plastic bin. We learned that researching RV starter gear, and having these “must-haves” ahead of time definitely pays off.
Lesson 7: Where there is a will, there is a way!
Not much of our first night RVing was done the smart way or the easy way. If we were able to go back, and tap ourselves on the shoulder to impart a few tips, we would tell ourselves to just get a hotel for the weekend, have Ron drop the RV off at the service center, and take care of the rest come the following Monday. What’s another 2 or 3 days of waiting? Or, fine, take the RV from Ron at Walmart, but tow it to a hotel, and figure out a campground in the morning. We quickly learned a lot about RVing, but most of all we realized that where there is a will, there is a way. We really wanted to start our RV adventure that Friday night and we did. We problem-solved and adapted to quickly changing circumstances, and we did it together. As any RVer knows, that’s par for the course. Even without an idyllic, Instagram-worthy start, we quickly acclimated to the RV life, and have been loving it ever since. Even so, we recommend you take it easy on yourselves, and consider the 7 tips above for a much more successful first night in your RV.
When meeting fellow RVers in person, we've noticed we aren't the only ones with some good first-timer stories ;) Let us know in the comments below if you had an interesting first night too!