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Old 11-11-2005, 04:15 AM   #1
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Hi, dh and I just bought our first camper. It has taken us 3 yrs to finally do it. We went back and forth over exactly what we wanted, and now, we have it. We bought a new '05 Fleetwood Americana Colonial folding camper. It is exactly what we wanted. We can pull it with our astrovan and dh like it because there is no potti waste for him to deal with. Up until he found out about the black water hose, he wanted a big trailer. LOL I can't wait to use it the first time.

Oh, about me. I am a homeschooling, stay at home mother of 5. My dh is a chaplain in the army stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. Our kids ages are ds14, dd9, ds6, dd4, and dd2.

Here is a little story about our trek picking up our popup yesterday. I originally posted it yesterday to another group that I am on. If anybody can give us any tips as to backing up, we would appreciate it.

We picked our camper up today!!! I am so happy. They gave us a class on how to set it up, take it down, etc. Seems easy enough. After dh cranking it, I am glad that we got the one with the waist high crank and not the bumper high one. He cranked it up and down in about a minute. The beds slid out quick as well. We can have camp totally set up in about 30 minutes. Way better than a tent.

One funny thing though. We hitched it up and was on our merry way. It was dinner time, so we stopped for some pizza. We parked at the end of the parking lot across two spots to pull through. No prob. Well, after dinner, we got back in to get on the road. Neither dh nor I have ever towed anything before. I suggested that dh try go to an empty parking lot to practice maneuvering it, backing up esp., before we got home. He got into the lot and positioned himself to back up. Holy,moly, he turned one way, the trailer went the other. OOPS! He said OK, I'll turn the other way. Ooops too far, nearly jackknifed. Well, lets just try to back straight up and see how that works, fiddlesticks, the darn thing won't stay straight. We just sat there laughing for a while. Trying to figure out what we were going to do with this thing. Leaving it there was a brief thought.

Anyway, I called my mom because we had a trailer when I was a kid. She told me that she never backed it up, only my dad, he never let her. All she had to offer was... "it turns opposite from the way you turn your wheel." Thanks mom, we already figured that out. YIKES! what do we do?

I remembered that a neighbor who I had befriended, also a chaplain's wife had mentioned something about them having a boat or something when they were in FL. Well, I called her. In between the laughter she managed to agree to send her dh to help. He came over just as we got there. 2 seconds later he had whipped it into our TINY little narrow driveway that I am lucky to pull our van into w/o hitting the curb. He made it look so easy.

Well, long story short... can anybody say..."pull through site"!
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Old 11-11-2005, 04:15 AM   #2
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Hi, dh and I just bought our first camper. It has taken us 3 yrs to finally do it. We went back and forth over exactly what we wanted, and now, we have it. We bought a new '05 Fleetwood Americana Colonial folding camper. It is exactly what we wanted. We can pull it with our astrovan and dh like it because there is no potti waste for him to deal with. Up until he found out about the black water hose, he wanted a big trailer. LOL I can't wait to use it the first time.

Oh, about me. I am a homeschooling, stay at home mother of 5. My dh is a chaplain in the army stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. Our kids ages are ds14, dd9, ds6, dd4, and dd2.

Here is a little story about our trek picking up our popup yesterday. I originally posted it yesterday to another group that I am on. If anybody can give us any tips as to backing up, we would appreciate it.

We picked our camper up today!!! I am so happy. They gave us a class on how to set it up, take it down, etc. Seems easy enough. After dh cranking it, I am glad that we got the one with the waist high crank and not the bumper high one. He cranked it up and down in about a minute. The beds slid out quick as well. We can have camp totally set up in about 30 minutes. Way better than a tent.

One funny thing though. We hitched it up and was on our merry way. It was dinner time, so we stopped for some pizza. We parked at the end of the parking lot across two spots to pull through. No prob. Well, after dinner, we got back in to get on the road. Neither dh nor I have ever towed anything before. I suggested that dh try go to an empty parking lot to practice maneuvering it, backing up esp., before we got home. He got into the lot and positioned himself to back up. Holy,moly, he turned one way, the trailer went the other. OOPS! He said OK, I'll turn the other way. Ooops too far, nearly jackknifed. Well, lets just try to back straight up and see how that works, fiddlesticks, the darn thing won't stay straight. We just sat there laughing for a while. Trying to figure out what we were going to do with this thing. Leaving it there was a brief thought.

Anyway, I called my mom because we had a trailer when I was a kid. She told me that she never backed it up, only my dad, he never let her. All she had to offer was... "it turns opposite from the way you turn your wheel." Thanks mom, we already figured that out. YIKES! what do we do?

I remembered that a neighbor who I had befriended, also a chaplain's wife had mentioned something about them having a boat or something when they were in FL. Well, I called her. In between the laughter she managed to agree to send her dh to help. He came over just as we got there. 2 seconds later he had whipped it into our TINY little narrow driveway that I am lucky to pull our van into w/o hitting the curb. He made it look so easy.

Well, long story short... can anybody say..."pull through site"!
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Old 11-11-2005, 05:20 AM   #3
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Sandra
Congratulations on your new camper. As for the backing, well practice, practice, practice,, it is just one of those things that you will get the hang of once you have done it enough times.

Don't be embrassed at a camp ground if you can't get it into a site, just ask for help, you will be surprised at how friendly and willing to help most campers are. Welcome to the wonderfull world of RVing..

Terry (retired Navy)
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Old 11-11-2005, 06:05 AM   #4
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Sandra, welcome to irv2
Congrats on you new adventure into RVing an new popup. Like Terry says practice,practice. When you move up to a MH and pull the popup for your kids dorm you will find a new experience in backing it up. You can always disconnect an roll it on the site, you have enough help. "007"
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Old 11-11-2005, 07:04 PM   #5
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Sandra, Welcome to the IRV2 website, congratulations on getting your new pop-camper, enjoy. Ed.S
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Old 11-12-2005, 02:20 AM   #6
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Sandra, Welcome to iRV2.com and congratulations on your new rig! We are glad to have you join us here and we will be happy to help with questions you might have. As you have learned about backing it will take lots of practice to get as good at it as your friend is. Short length trailers turn real quick, so a little on the steering wheel goes a long way. If there is a wheel on the tounge jack it can; as has been mentioned, backed in place by hand! Good luck and enjoy the website and your new camper.
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Old 11-12-2005, 04:22 AM   #7
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Thanks for all the replies and welcomes. So, I guess the consensus is to "practice". We were so nevous just towing forward. I don't thingk that I will be driving while we are out with it. Luckily I don't usually drive anyway.

Yes, our tongue has a wheel. So I guess we can just leave the wheel down and push. We are going to back it out from under our carport today into our side yard so that we can set it up and pack all the "toys" I bought in it.

I picked up a few things we will need, keeping in mind weight. I bought a few things. Here is what I got, can you guys add anything that I have forgotten?

flyswatters, bucket (for grey water), water regulator, kitchen towel, liteweight rope, wheel chocks, coupler lock (we were told to get this to keep people from driving off with our camper), aluminum pots and pans, camp toaster, cleaning wipes, hand soap, hand sanitizer, dish wipes, mirror, ziplocs, lighters, plates, bowls, cups, utensils, broom and dustpan, snake bite kit, tablecloth and clamps, and glow in the dark necklaces and glowsticks for the littles.

I still want to buy lighthouse lights for the canopy. And of course food. I also want to get an add a room for extra space (anyone know about how much they are?)

Oh, and a little bit about our camper. We originally wanted to buy used. We went to look at used and the salesman said that they were trying to get rid of the 05 stock. He said they had slashed the price and would throw inair conditioning and a canopy. We looked at them, considered the warranty (which the used ones did not have) and decided to get a new one.

We pull it with a 96 astro van. I believe it has a transmission oil cooler, but I want to check.

We were tent campers before and planned on moving on to a camper eventually. We are from Venice, south of New Orleans and lost everything in Katrina, including all of our camping gear. We figured now was the time to get a camper rather than replacing all of our gear. Nothing like nature to give you a little push to do what you had been wanting to do anyway huh. We have also had to replace our antiquated cameras, camcorder, and computer. Wow, I did not realize how behind the times we were. Glad to join everbody in the 21st century. We have always had the mentality "why buy a new one when the old one works just fine". Well, the old ones no longer work.

Once again, thanks for the tips and the warm welcome. I am glad that I have folks like you to come to when we are in a pickle.

Any stupid first timer mistakes anyone wants to warn us about before our first time out?
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Old 11-12-2005, 04:53 AM   #8
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Welcome Sandra, as everyone else has said you will find lots of help on this site.

Sounds like you have already picked up most of the things you will need. You are not a novice to camping, just new to the method. You will definitly enjoy the comfort level.

One thing I noticed though, you have not said anything about trailer brakes. I don't know what weight the trailer you bought is and I would hope the dealer went over it with you when he sold you the trailer. With 7 of you in the van and a loaded trailer you will want to be able to stop when heading down a mountain side. I'm not speaking from first hand experience here mind you but my brother borrowed a tent trailer last year to pull behind his Dodge Intrepid and lost his brakes half way down a long steep grade. Fortunatly there was no accident but they sat at the side of the road with smoke pouring off all four wheels for quite awhile. He was able to turn around and head back up the hill and drop the trailer off where he got it. (bought a tent for the rest of that trip)

Not intending on putting a damper on your enthusium at all and if you have already got the brakes then I am sure you will have lots of fun with your new 'toy'.

446 days till freedom
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Old 11-12-2005, 06:50 PM   #9
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Yes, the trailer has electric brakes. It is under 3,000 lbs I believe. There is a break controller by the stearing wheel that the technician taught my dh how to use. He also said we should get a battery for the camper, not just for dry camping, but as an auxillary brake should the camper come unhitched, the brake will engage and we won't watch our camper go passing us by. I think the battery would also come in handy if we get in late and don't feel like plugging in before bed. Can't run the a/c but will have light if we need it. Oh and the fridge as well.

Oh, we set it up today. Setup took us 10 minutes. Of course, that is not hooking up electric and water, but we could climb into bed. I think that is cool. Way better than a tent. We did not even break a sweat. So neat. Take down took 30 because we goofed up a couple of times.

Can't wait to take her out the first time. I am already making my grocery list.
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