Libbys on the Loose:2 Humans. 2 Great Danes. 1 RV.: My First Solo Road Trip - by Jeanine

Thursday, October 13, 2016

My First Solo Road Trip - by Jeanine

The original plan this past spring was for Eric and I and the kids to depart Cocoa Beach, FL on May 16, 2016. We had spent the previous two months working on our house to sell, entertaining visitors, and selling off more of our belongings.  We had been doing vacation rentals with our house since February 2015 when we went full-time.  We were doing great with the renters until we found a zoning issue that wouldn’t allow us to continue to do weekly rentals, instead only able to offer rentals with a minimum of 30 days.  The number of people that are able to take 30 day vacations is much smaller than those on week long vacations.  This led us to selling our house, which we closed on August 15th.  

While we were in Florida, we decided it was time to have some maintenance done on the fifth wheel.  Our landing gear was weak and sounded like it skipped gears while being raised.  We had a slide off center that needed to be shimmed and our brakes didn’t seem like they were working.  The first repair place that had availability was Camping World of Cocoa, Florida.  Upon their inspection, our landing gear needed some welding, a new transmission, and a new motor.  In addition to this and our slide being adjusted, it turned out that our trailer brakes were nearly non-existent.  

When we bought the rig in 2015 we had a 90 day warranty on everything from RV Direct of Titusville.  We stayed our first month at a campground nearby and for the first few weeks a tech would be sent out at least once a week to repair something.  After that we started moving around a bit and we discovered that our braking was terrible.  We took it back to RV Direct two separate times before our 90 days was up and both times we were assured that the trailer was fine and it must be the truck.  At the time, with the truck we’d had at that time we believed that to be true.  After being in the Charlotte/Asheville area all that summer, on our way back to Florida for some body work on the Fifth wheel after an incident with a tree that truck’s transmission began to fail.  Rather than deal with a costly repair, we sold that truck and got our current "Beast".  We spent all winter in the mountains and once again in Florida this spring we decided that there were still some brake issues.  We went ahead and had Camping World take care of the slide and landing gear (which took them an obscenely long three weeks and later found out we were billed for parts that weren't replaced and service not performed but that's a whole other can of worms) we took the fifth wheel back to RV Direct.  In the end, it took another two and a half weeks to get all new hubs, drums, backing plates, and magnets.  At the end of the first week, Eric ended up having to fly to Pennsylvania to help his parents.  


Because the fifth wheel wasn’t ready yet, I had the idea that it would be a good opportunity for me to have a trip on my own (we believe that us both being familiar with setup, tear down, and towing of the RV is very important)!  RV Direct, while it wasn’t the fastest repair (as it seems to be the normal for the industry) they did do most of the work and replaced all the parts at their cost because we had been their twice while under warranty and it was very clear the brakes had been in that condition before our purchase.  They even let me stay on the lot with the dogs and plug into their building!  During my delay, I had no running water since we had never planned on a delay and didn't want/need to drive 1,000 miles with full tanks, so I learned how to get by with 2.5 gallon jugs.  I also had issues with the front a/c and the refrigerator kept giving me a NO HC code and wasn’t cooling.  I ended up using the rear a/c and had to have Eric walk me through resetting the fridge via FaceTime.  I did end up having to toss some food but was able to save the majority.  

My co-pilot
Another advantage to having stayed at the repair shop is that all the guys decided to give me backing-up-the-trailer lessons!  I have been pulling trailers since I was 11, if not earlier.  I had not however, since we started, backed up the fifth wheel!!  I knew the basics were the same as far as when you want your trailer to go one direction or the other and what way to turn the steering wheel and how to use the mirrors, but having the connection to the truck be several feet forward of a trailer hitch made it much different to turn!  If you don’t have someone to teach you, I would definitely recommend asking around for someone to teach you (in a large empty parking lot) or to attend a CDL class.  

I was originally planning on driving 4-5 hours a day and take my time, but with all the delays I didn’t have any extra time in order to meet up with friends in Lake Placid before they departed.  I ended up driving around 6 hours that first day (I didn’t get started until early afternoon) and stayed at Camp Lake Jasper RV Resort.  I got a great pull through site (even though I do know how to hook / unhook the truck and trailer) and hooked up the electric and water for the night.  I was very proud of myself until the following evening after arriving at Eric’s parents house in Pennsylvania to discover that when I had hooked up the water to fill the tank, I had forgotten to flip the lever that allows the water in!  

In all, I am very glad that I did the trip.  I learned a few new things and I gained a ton of confidence.  There just is no substitute to just doing it solo!  I know that  Eric and I won’t always be together as we have some individual adventures planned in the future, and as my parents taught me from a very young age – it’s always important to know how to take care of yourself and to show courage when you are unsure or scared.

Did we get it right? Do you have experience or knowledge about this post? Please make yourself heard! Comment below and we will respond as soon as possible. As always, thanks for following us! Disclaimer: We are not paid writers. We write for enjoyment and to share information about our travels with our families, friends, and our followers. The information that we provide is based on our experiences with the products, services, etc, that we write about. It is 100% non-biased!

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