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Old 10-21-2012, 02:45 PM   #1
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First Trip - Maybe Second...

This summer we bought our first RV, a 34 ft Holiday Rambler Ambassador with one slide out in wonderful shape. A diesel pusher with 26,000 miles on it. Took our first trip from Michigan to Western NY (genealogy research) to a campground in the Poconos (PA East) where my brother has a seasonal spot. Gone over two weeks.

I love the camping and being the passenger while moving terrifies me. From NY to PA was a narrow road, through small towns, no shoulder, steep climbs and descents and I ended up almost going to pieces the last hour which was the easiest. No chance of not "looking" at the steep sides down the narrow shoulder or the tiny guardrails that wouldn't stop anything this big, since I'm designated navigator. We are in our seventies but I can't claim it's just age. Would have been just as scared in my twenties!

We are thinking of heading south in November when we can get everything ready to leave again. Don't know if my mental health will make it through. :-(

One of the problems was not knowing where to stop for fuel (turnpike was a joy ride in comparison until the shock of the toll road price hit. Just pulled off and took two spots (pulling a crv) at a plaza. Paid for a ticket and no one complained. Too many places with diesel were not pull through. Luckily there was always someone to help out when we did stop. Found one rest stop near the last part of the seven hour drive.

The RV is well built and we like it, but are already wishing it had more storage. Two or three slides would be wonderful. We saw a Rambler Ambassador at our dealer two days ago with three slides. 38 feet. Deluxe! More than twice the price and we are too new to take a chance on it. I like that the cabinets are wood and not particle board. Everything seems to work (though my DH has to still pull out his directions for a lot of things). Problems have been mostly user error. No TV because the shop did a rotten job of connecting the new one we asked them to put in. My brother (former entertainment center installer, fixed the mess for us and DH finally had his TV. I wasn't so lucky. Wireless at the campgrounds were useless. Need to look into some kind of wi fi to carry with us.

We took way to much food. Mostly snacked and ate TV dinners. The dealer is looking for a faucet that has a pull out spray so it is easier to fill larger pans and clean salad greens. The sink is quite shallow.

I hope we can plan an easier route to Florida! And hope we can get away before snow flies and hope there will be campgrounds open in the northern parts (I can only make about six hours of travel in a day.)

One day I'm ready to go and the next I'm terrified.
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Old 10-21-2012, 03:00 PM   #2
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Congrats on a successful first trip! I'm betting your anxiety will subside as you get more miles under your belt. That diesel pusher is a serious traveling machine and much easier to keep under control than a long, overloaded gasser would be.

Fuel stops can be a challenge. The major truck stops are easy to access but they can be intimidating when you're first starting out. I'd make two suggestions... 1) begin to look for a good place to get fuel when you're down to a half tank... and, 2) ALWAYS have an exit plan before entering a fuel stop. It's a pain to have to unhook the toad because you have to back out.

Planning for food is an art. Just last night we returned from a three month, 8000 mile loop through 22 states and 5 Canadian Provinces. Since there's obviously a lot of road time involved, before we left she made up a lot of crock pot dinners and froze them so she could just put the crock pot in the sink and let them cook all day while we drove.

For internet we use a Verizon USB modem and wifi router and have been very pleased with it for nearly 5 years now. It's really kind of old technology now and Verizon offers a range of solutions which will do the same thing, only better and probably cheaper.

Best of luck.

Rick
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Old 10-21-2012, 04:47 PM   #3
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Hi Peggy! Sounds like you are off to a good start, and it's typical of most "newbies"to get a good case of nerves over things. Our first couple of trips I was a basket case over fuel stops . "Can we get in there?? Can we get out??? Is the driveway too steep???" Yikes.

I have to agree with Rick, it gets MUCH EASIER with each trip. Try to relax and enjoy the ride; you'll learn as you go. Our first trip, I barely took enough food, and now I ALWAYS overstock the pantry!!
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:06 PM   #4
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Thanks for the encouragement. I think the planning is harder than the traveling. I get paranoid - will any place be available, park or walmart? How will we know which exit (Have the "Next Exit" and find it hard to follow)? Will all parks be closed? Should we stop and spend some time in South Carolina or Georgia? When does winter reach there? Should we look for a rental for the months we'd like to stay in Florida, and for an RV group nearby to join for shorter trips? Should we... Should we...
I'm driving DH and myself nuts!
Wish I had freezer room to store prepared dinners. I move from, "Do I really want to do this" to "We need a bigger rig!"
Been at this too many hours today. Amazing the info that's on the forum (Could have done without the topic on fires.) Tomorrow I'll start looking forward to it again!
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Old 10-21-2012, 07:10 PM   #5
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Looks like most of your questions have been answered. I'll add that we use our smartphone as a modem with ATT and it works for us. I would suggest that you get a GPS (we use a Garmin) and that should remove some of the anxiety with directions. I usually read maps as well before we depart and then we have a good idea of what we are doing.

I try to plan the next days fuel stop before we leave by checking with the Flying J, Gas Buddy and Diesel Boss web sites. I always fill up at the 1/2 point and that relieves anxiety. As regards supplies, we just stock the rig as if it was our home and don't worry about much else. Of course we will dine out as part of travel for us is to enjoy the local cuisine.

There are also a couple of books entitled Mountain West and Mountain East directory and they are excellent if the roads you will be traveling will cause you to encounter grades.

Nick
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Old 10-21-2012, 07:19 PM   #6
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You really should get commfy with the Next Exit book. It is a trove of information. It is laid out simply...the red places are rv friendly (by and large)

This is our third cross country trip, over 5000 miles. The first one was a bit of a challange, just trying to figure things out. The 2d was great except for the tow bar failure....But we stuck with it and this has been an awesome trip. 15 states over 2 months. We are ready to be home...but it is a blast. Just find your comfort zone.
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Old 10-21-2012, 09:18 PM   #7
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You will get used to traveling in the MH. My wife only panics on bridges now and she is getting better. We have been all over and planning is the key. Truck stops are the best place to fill up at. We try to fill up at 1/2 a tank. If you get to the station and can't get into the pumps for whatever reason you just move onto the next truck stop. We like flying J truck stops. Most have a RV island. Two other good places to stop along the interstate is Walmart and Cracker Barrel.
We use our smart phones for Internet access. We always bring lots of food. Easier to carry it back in the house than a trip to the store. We love having our "house" with us when we travel.
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Old 10-21-2012, 09:42 PM   #8
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I would recommend you stay with the RV you have at least for a while until you get used to the RV. To me, the best way to minimize the stress of the road is to drive the Interstaes whenever you can. stay away from toll rodes again if you can. You will be able to find fuel (truck stops) and campgrounds, especially if you travel more/less south from Michigan to say East Texas, Southern Arkansas, and of course Louisiana. Once you get to the south, snow will be almost completely non existent, and almost all campgrounds are open year round. Good luck and ejoy the ride.
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Old 10-22-2012, 12:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3bells View Post
Thanks for the encouragement. I think the planning is harder than the traveling. I get paranoid - will any place be available, park or walmart? How will we know which exit (Have the "Next Exit" and find it hard to follow)? Will all parks be closed? Should we stop and spend some time in South Carolina or Georgia? When does winter reach there? Should we look for a rental for the months we'd like to stay in Florida, and for an RV group nearby to join for shorter trips? Should we... Should we...
I'm driving DH and myself nuts!
Wish I had freezer room to store prepared dinners. I move from, "Do I really want to do this" to "We need a bigger rig!"
Been at this too many hours today. Amazing the info that's on the forum (Could have done without the topic on fires.) Tomorrow I'll start looking forward to it again!
You will find plenty of campgrounds open year round in the South, so don't worry about that. As for freezer space, put pre-cooked foods into freezer bags since they take up much less space than plastic containers.

If you don't have one, get a crock pot. You can toss meat & veggies in, plug it in and sit it in the sink so dinner cooks while you ride down the highway. Putting it in the sink insures that there won't be a "food incident" in case of a sudden stop. When you stop for the night, dinner is ready!
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:48 PM   #10
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Paul and Peggy,

Well congratulations on a good start.

You said you had less than great internet at the campground. That is not any kind of a surprise. Even when it is good, someone will stream a movie and shut it down. I have two suggestions here. First is get an Alfa Wifi unit with a large antenna and put it in the window. That will get you all the wifi that is available. Outside of campgrounds it will work even better if you can find a hot Mikey Ds, BK or Panera , etc to work from. Second, if you have a smartphone learn how to tether it to the laptop. Or get a wireless hotspot box. Both of these are are more expensive, but they also don't need someone else's hotspot to get you internet that will most times work just fine while you are underway.

If you are comfortable at the computer, you can run Strips and Treets or Street Alas while DH is at the wheel. Talk about navigating. And with the internet underway, you can get Gasbuddy to pick your next fuel stop.

By the way, truck stops don't mind if you use the truck pumps and they are all pull through. One of the big chains (Pilot or FlyJ) has dedicated RV lanes at many locations. These also have potable water and dump in the lane.

Matt
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