Life On Board – Part One
I’m a bit of a voyeur – I follow a bunch of RV blogs to see what they’re up to. What interests me most is not the destinations they describe so floridly, nor the swanky restaurants documented down to the last bite. Instead I snoop for details – the everyday bits that are truly life on the road; laundry, cooking, sitting around at camp, passing time on those endless driving miles. The boring stuff. Because it’s these in-between moments where life is really lived. All the small stuff that happens along the way is what makes RV travel so unique.
So for all the other Peeping Toms out there, here’s a tour of Life On Board that rarely gets documented.
Prepping For a Trip
Our RV is really a second home. It has its own linens, pots and pans, and groovy outdoor furniture. Everything is permanently packed so all I need to do is load in clothes and food. Easy, right? Yet somehow it manages to take up the whole dang day.
I may have discovered a rift in the Space/Time Continuum where two hours stretches into twelve.
I try to plan and organize but it hardly helps. After consulting the weather map we make piles of clothing to pack. How cold will it be? Okay, I’m taking sweaters. Oh wait, the forecast just changed to 80 degrees. Add shorts and tee shirts to the pile. Hold on, now they’re predicting storms, so toss in a couple of jackets. Eventually most of my wardrobe ends up in the travel pile and I’ve got nothing left to wear in the meantime except a formal ball gown.
Our camping food supply is also carefully calculated to feed the Third Army. Cases of soda and water bottles. Dry goods like rice and noodles. Do we need paper towels? Lemme check. How about snacks? Chips and nuts? More bags get added to the pile. Of course there’s also the fresh food provisions waiting to be shuttled to the RV. Our big Frigidaire is loaded and it’s like a giant game of Tetris to cram it all into an 8 cubic foot fridge in the motorhome. Lessee, if I turn this box sideways I might be able to squash a bag of salad in here…
All this food gets packed in the coach because in the back of our brains we are sure there are no other grocery stores in the rest of America.
Actually, this obsessive habit with food is left over from our backpacking days. When you’re hiking for a week in the wilds of Appalachia there really are no grocery stores. Everything you want to eat goes with you. So we’ve clung to this mindless routine of packing a ton of food in the RV thinking, hey, we might go hungry!
Pre-Flight Check List
The day before departure is rather hectic and more complicated by wearing that ball gown, my last piece of clothing available. Morning starts by plugging in the coach to a 30 amp outlet on the side of the garage. This gets all the systems running including the refrigerators. There’s the main kitchen fridge and also a second half-size one outside. That’s an over-kill feature but it came standard with this Thor Ace model, so we might as well use it.
If I’m feeling ambitious I’ll wash the coach with an elaborate hose and wand system. That involves standing on a ladder while grabbing the slippery soap-filled wand with one hand and flailing the heavy hose around with the other hand. Water and soap ends up pouring down my head, so I finally have to give up the gown for a bathing suit. If I have any energy left after battling the hose I’ll give the inside a good sweep. We found a tiny RV-size vacuum and there’s always little piles of sand and camp dirt in the corners to round up. Even though there isn’t a lot of floor space to sweep, I manage get hot and sweaty every time.
Next task is to fill the fresh water tank. It holds 50 gallons of water, which we recently found out is enough to last six days of camping if we take fast showers and don’t turn on the tap too much. The RV gurus will tell you to travel with your water tank empty for better fuel economy – in our case we’d be 400 pounds lighter – but I’m just not comfortable doing that. Too many times we’ve had to change plans mid-transit or got caught in a giant traffic snarl where supper was cooked on the side of the road.
Also I’m pretty picky about using my own potty rather than taking a chance on how Bubba cleans the restrooms at the Redneck Gas & Ammo Stop.
Oddly the fill cap for fresh water is on the passenger side of the vehicle, which is convenient for our hose location at home but nowhere else. Plus it’s located about 5 inches over my head, so another soaking usually happens here.
And now a small rant for the Thor engineers…
- On every other motorhome there’s a fresh water drain located on the outside. Turn the valve and the water tank drains out a hose underneath the chassis. And it’s good practice to drain the tank so water doesn’t get funky between trips.
- But on this Thor Ace model, for reasons we can’t even begin to imagine, the water drain is located inside, under the bedroom closet behind a large section of paneling. In order to dump the tank you’ve got to take a screwdriver and disassemble the closet. The paneling is flimsy plywood and pushing four screws in and out has chewed up the screw holes immediately.
- To make matters worse, the bedroom slide needs to be extended to access the panel. So we have to back the coach out of the carport about 10 feet, leaving us too far from the 30 amp outlet on the side of the garage, which requires stringing two power cords together with a dogbone connector to reach the plug. All this fuss for the lack of a simple 50-cent water valve on the exterior. Sheesh.
Well now it’s mid-afternoon and so far all I’ve accomplished is getting sweaty and soaking wet a couple of times. Our clothes and food still need to be loaded, and here’s where the Space/Time Rift usually kicks in – two hours of packing the RV has stretched into twelve.
Alert Stephen Hawking…we’re on to something here.