Being brand new to the art of RV-ing, Hans and I had no idea about the extent that the old adage of “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” applies to RV-ing.
We set out on our trip to Texas with our trailer fully packed with items to store at my parents’ ranch that we did not want to part with but could not take on the road with us.
We stopped at a CAT scale to check our weight. Our truck and trailer together weighed 20,000 pounds. Our trailer has a capacity of 10,000 pounds and weighed 11,020. So, we were over-grossed by 1,020. Not an ideal situation. Not to mention that we could not even get into the trailer easily because we had it loaded right up to the doors.
With this situation, we decided to make the 13 hour drive (according to Googlemaps) straight through just switching out drivers when one of us became tired.
I felt like we had a perfect plan. What could possibly go wrong?
Being a frugal person, I looked online and found a place to dump our tanks for free on http://www.rvdumps.com/. The Circle K in Colorado Springs looked perfect. If you buy 8 gallons of fuel, your dump is free! Lots of places charge $15-$20 just to offload your tanks so I am always on the scout for a deal.
What we did not know is that the Circle K off of exit 138 in Colorado Springs is super sketchy at 1 am on Saturday morning! I do not think that Hans noticed the activities in the parking lot as he was too busy checking the air in the tires one last time and dumping the tanks.
During the hour it took for him to do that, I observed an 18 wheeler pull in, a Lincoln Town Car pull up next to them 5 minutes later, the truck drivers jump into the LTC for 10 minutes, the car drive off and the truck drivers take off again. A man living in his car at the back of the gas station was screaming at someone with whom he was FaceTiming. And some guy was busily sorting through the dumpster in the back d the gas station. Yuck. I was relieved to leave.
Now, our trip was up to 14 hours in length. No problem! I had 2 cans of Red Bull and all kinds of candy to indulge myself (I usually do a ketogenic diet so this was a treat, indeed!). Hans was conking out, but with my treats and good music, I was ready to punch through the dark night of the Colorado and New Mexico roads.
I finally hit a wall in Clayton, NM, at about 5:30 am, and had to catch a few zzzz’s. We lost another hour with my nap. Hans managed to take a very attractive picture of me:
Things were still going smoothly at this point. But was we drove through Dalhart, TX, the winds picked up considerably. Wind and a trailer is not a great combination. This slowed our progress even more.
We stopped in Childress, TX, to get some iced tea at McDonald’s. The wind had blown the spare tire cover off. Somehow, although we had made sure our spare was in good shape, we never bothered to look at what was actually holding the spare on. Apparently, it was a single rusty stripped out nut and screw. We were so relieved it had held and no one was hurt by our stupid mistake.
Also, one of the bike handle bars was rubbing a hole in the back of our trailer. Of course the Allen wrenches were not in a convenient place and required gymnastic maneuvers on Hans’ part inside the 95 degree trailer to retrieve them to make the adjustment.
Conveniently enough, there was a Tractor Supply Co. store in the parking lot where we stopped. Hans got what he needed, but of course, it took a while to fix it so we lost another hour and a half here.
But luckily there was a tamale truck in the parking lot, I bought one bag of beef and one of pork for $11, and we ate those for the 3 days and even shared some with my Mom and her husband, Danny.
We continued on driving slowly through the gusty winds of west Texas. So exhausted and tired and so ready to be to Whitney.
We were in our final stretch from Weatherford to Whitney, only about an hour and a half left! Then, I noticed a check engine light. I wasn’t sure how long it had been on. I showed Hans and he said it was the DEF fluid. I had heard of it, but had no idea that it was running low nor that it would activate a speed governor automatically in your engine when it ran out!
We had some DEF with us buried deep inside the pile of things in the bed of our pick up. We pulled over in a residential neighborhood in Weatherford and exhumed the contents of our pick up bed and found it.
We finally made it to the ranch at 9:30 pm. What I thought would take 13 hours, took over 21 hours.
We made it down a mile of dirt road without any problems with tree branches or potholes thanks to hard work on my brother and his friend Wayne’s part. However, we found out that something was wrong with the electrical hook up at the shop.
(I think a surge protector is an absolute MUST if you have an RV you are going to plug in. It could save your rig and your bank account.)
I had told Ben, my brother, that it was a 30 amp plug for our RV. I assumed it must be a 220 volt. Not the case!!! Our Arctic Fox 25Y has a 30 amp plug but runs on 110 volts. I’m not sure, but I think this is unusual.
He and his friend, Wayne Redding, managed to figure it out the next day. Ben was in Tulsa, but Wayne had the mad skills required to fix the problem.
It was past midnight, and we were so tired. I slept in the old ranch house which has air conditioning. It was way too hot to sleep in the camper. Hans, who has bad allergies to dust and pet dander, slept in our truck with the a/c running.
We were tired, but we were so happy and thrilled to have completed the first leg of our adventure. And we learned so much along the way, such as give yourself at least a third more time than you think you will need to get there. And things may not work as planned when you do arrive so have a backup plan (such as gas to run your generators). Also, keep all tools and essential equipment in easily accessible places.
I’m sure we will learn much, much more!