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Old 06-30-2013, 08:35 PM   #1
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notes and thoughts after 1st big trip

Just got back from our first long family trip in our 32' bunkhouse class A and thought I could share some of the things I've figured out or learned along the way. In a nutshell, we traveled from South Louisiana to Northern Kentucky and a few places in between. We tried just about every way to camp in our RV over the course of 8 nights to get a feel for things and will discuss that later.. We had a great time all-in-all and certainly have a lot to learn/tweak. Here are just a few thoughts:

1. Allstays iphone app is wonderful. We used this app to find out where we could dump our tanks, where we could stay, and looked ahead on our routes to make sure there weren't any restrictions on any back roads. We never made any reservations so it came in really handy to look a few hours ahead while on the road. MAJOR LEARNING POINT: Hazardous Narrow roads are not shown on the maps, only height warnings. This leads me to my next point..
2. Crossing the HWY 68 bridge on the East side of Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky is just wide enough for two class A motorhomes to pass each other on the 2 lane road by about 2 inches. How do I know? Another courteous Rv'er and I squeezed by each other at an inch by inch rate. However, the idiot in the Lay's chips delivery truck flew by at about 40mph and took my driver's side mirror with him. Turns out this same incident happens at least 3x/week and even though I was almost stopped because I saw it coming, nobody gets a ticket. $500 deductible.. thanks. I got a mirror custom cut to fit some of the aluminum innards of what was left of my mirror by a sweet lady at Regional Glass Inc. in Eddyville, KY. She charged me $5 and did an excellent job.
3. I got just over 7mpg because I had to run the generator the entire time I was driving to keep the kids cool in the back. I also drove most of the way with a full water tank (80 gal.) which I later cut down to half.
4. Just using lots of water in the black tank doesn't keep the smell down. Had to buy some tank chemicals and flush it out really well. I'm guessing the high temps don't help anything. Also learned real quick that tank sensors really don't work well once you leave the dealership. My grey water tank always showed full and I'm assuming that is because it was fouled with dish soap bubbles or something. Can anyone recommend options for sensors?
5. Tried out just about every sleeping/camping arrangement. The first night we tried a rest stop (I talked about it in great detail in another post). Thank god my CO detector works because it went off in the middle of the night and caused me to move on down the road to the nearest Wal-Mart parking lot. Apparently by the time my motorhome was surrounded by 18wheelers idling to stay cool, the CO levels were too high. My wife and I both had really bad headaches when we woke and what is really scary is we have a 10 mo. old baby on board. My biggest takeaway is I will never park somewhere that I can even be potentially surrounded by big rigs or other RV's running their generators in a confined area. Wal-Mart was awesome by the way since it wasn't a 24hr one and it was only me and the big rig driver parked 50 yards away in the lot.
6. Driveway camping is alright once you get it all figured out. I don't think my family, at two different sites, had any idea of how big my motorhome really is. 32' and 12.5' tall doesn't seem that big until you try to squeeze it into a pullthrough driveway or fit it in a small front yard because the slope to the backyard is too great. Also learned to make sure that the roads leading in to their rural houses don't have low branches. I'll be putting a folding saw and some pruning shears (big ones) in the RV before the next trip. Also make sure you find a garage outlet that's not carrying a big load to plug into. Plugging into porch outlets tended to throw the breaker more often when we accidently turned on an extra thing or two.
7. Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds on Enid Lake, Mississippi are awesome!!! Out of all of the nights dry camping or driveway camping, we stayed at an actual campground only on the last night. It was a great experience. Quiet, clean, and well maintained.
We learned a great deal by just getting out and camping and driving. I'm sure next time we will be a little better prepared, pack a little better, and ready to build on our experience. I'll have to look at my notes to read all of the other newbie things I've figured out or figured I'd need for the next trip. But until then, it's back to work until the next time I get a vacation or long weekend!

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Old 06-30-2013, 08:54 PM   #2
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Item #4 - The hot weather really increases the activity in the black tank. I try to do multiple flushes of the tank every week in the summer. When it's below 70 degrees, it can usually go a month.

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Old 06-30-2013, 10:44 PM   #3
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Here is a replacement idea for the gauges. SeeLeveL Gauges by Garnet Instruments Ltd. - RV Applications Those that put them on love them and wonder why they did not do it sooner.
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Old 07-01-2013, 08:34 AM   #4
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Rather than trying to make the tank contents smell like something it is NOT ,try to figure out what is wrong with your air flow management. Any time the air pressure in the coach is less than the outside air pressure,the natural flow of air will be from the outside of the coach to the inside. (basic physics).Assuming the various sink and shower traps are full of water, there is ONLY one opening to the waste tanks and that is the vent pipe on the roof.Your task is to assure more pressure inside than out. For example,my first MH could not be driven with the windows open as the smell from the tanks was terrible.It appears the roof vent in the bathroom was sucking the smell from the vent which was rather close.
You said you had to use AC all the time. If the AC was set to RECIRCULATE, then in all probability,the air pressure was low,causing the odours to invade. A big no no is to drive with the bathroom roof vent open,especially if AC is recirculating. All this is assuming the stink is while you are "under way" and not at a camp site. Hope some of this of some help.
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Old 07-02-2013, 08:57 AM   #5
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But overall, you guys "Did" have fun right? I hope so!
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Old 07-02-2013, 09:15 AM   #6
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Sounds like a fun trip.

I would report the truck driver to the Lays people. Give them your place and time, they'll know who it was. You probably won't get any $$ out of it, but these driver's can loose their jobs (deservedly so) if too many complaints.

I always use tank chemicals in the black tank in the warm months. Put in first with a few gallons of water before anyone does there business in there. I find the blue stuff works the best, but it's not very environmentally friendly a choice as the orange or yellow. Ditto on driving with the vent open. Also, if you have the vent open and the fan on, when you flush the toilet, it can suck air up from the tank and flood your RV with stink. So I usually have the ventilator on while poopin', but close it when flushing.
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Old 07-03-2013, 09:10 AM   #7
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Glad you had a good time!

Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!
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Old 07-03-2013, 09:36 AM   #8
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We had the opposite view of lake Enid when we were there last October ....
No maintenance was being done and when they came to make a report after the wife broke her LEG in a hole hidden by the tall grass right off the wite they said their staff was 1/3 of what it should be and many people brought their lawn mower with them to camp !!!:-)

But glad u enjoyed it :-)
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Old 07-03-2013, 09:55 AM   #9
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Great post, nomad10th, the best way to learn is to do. You did it!
Another option for the black tank: right after emptying, flush several bowlsfull of water down then add water softener, (I use Calgone liquid) baking soda, and liquid dish detergent flushing down. It's Non-toxic, readily available at every grocery store, and seems to work well. We were in Arizona and New Mexico recently in some significant hot weather and odor was well controlled. I kept several containers of the orange stuff on hand just in case, but never had to use it.
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Old 07-03-2013, 10:08 AM   #10
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I know you know this, but I ALWAYS put deoderent chemicals in my black tank...12 months a year. (2-3 gallons of water plus chemicals) I ALWAYS have 2-3" of clean water in the toilet bowl....if yours is a used unit, be sure your black tank vent pipe is clear. You may have to go on the roof and run a sewer snake down the tube (gently) to insure it is open and venting fumes. In cold months, empty tanks, put in chemical plus water plus a gallon of RV anti freeze (Wal-Mart)....do not use auto anti freeze.

I have a V10 (older version, two valve) Ford and get 7.5 mpg average. Remember you are driving a funny looking TRUCK and 7+ is pretty good.
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Old 07-03-2013, 10:17 AM   #11
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Irene, do you use the water softner, baking soda, etc for odors...and perhaps to keep the black tank cleaner? I use a deodorent package made by Thetford...have for years and it keeps everything clean and "sweet". I can see where the dishwashing liquid could swish around and clean the tank as would the baking soda. How much of each do you use in your tank....my black tank is 50 gallons....your is probably larger....thanks.
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Old 07-03-2013, 10:56 AM   #12
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Thanks everyone for the replies and advice! I'll definitely keep learning from you all. We did have fun on our trip despite the accident. I'm trying not to stress about it as it's been almost a week and the dealer still hasn't given me a straight answer about a mirror replacement. The temporary mirror that we fabricated is almost as good as the original so I'm alright for now.

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