The RV Life – Not for the Faint of Heart

This year I thought I avoided the cold by at least a week, but nooooo. I hoped to get our big trailer back to Canada and winterized ahead of the freezing temperatures but nothing seemed to work as planned. I left last Monday after spending the weekend storing the aircraft trailer, hooking up Colleen’s trailer, getting her started on her trip south and preparing our 34 foot Elkridge RV.

Because I didn’t miss the snow last year a good part of the underside was covered in salt from the long trip home. That meant that after five months of use at White River, the gears for the four slide-outs were rusted up and stuck. Lots of grease, penetrating oil and expletives later, I found that I could alternate between a pipe wrench on the drive gear and a quick press of the remote control button would move them an inch at a time.

Last year I tried winterizing it myself but had to replace the shower taps, two stop valves and one toilet so I opted for a professional job on the trip home this year. However, the RV season is over in the north and most places have a skeleton staff with appointments a week into the future. I made three stops but decided finally to have it done once I got home. I booked an appointment online for Friday, also the day I have to be at the airport by 3 pm. Still time in the morning if it all went as planned.

For two days I had to shuffle it around as my driveway is only twenty feet long and there is strict parking enforcement on all the local streets. Finding a legal street space for a truck and trailer with an overall length near fifty feet is not easy, but managed. I emptied the fridge and dumped the waste. I booked the storage facility where I would drop it as soon as it was winterized, then head to the airport. A good plan, tight but good, until I heard the weather forecast predict Thursday night temperatures of -13C.

The only place to plug the trailer in was the office, which happens to be on a short, busy, commercial, dead end street. I pulled in midday and instantly knew it was a mistake. Cars were parked everywhere so the chances of turning in around were zero. Backing out into a very busy street was also impossible. So I waited until the other shops closed and their staff left. Then I made a thirty point turn to back it up to the office door, ran out the slider so the furnace would work and plugged it in.

That’s when I found out the the full propane bottles were all left for Brooke, who is still in Wisconsin. I had two bottles with only a few inches in each.

I used one bottle, then switched to the other at 2 am. At 6 am, I walked the mile to the office in four inches of snow and freezing temperatures. The propane was gone, the furnace out and the trailer as cold as a witch’s heart. I climbed to the roof so I could sweep off the snow above the slide-out and pushed it back into place. I tried to roll up the power cords but they were too stiff so I tossed them into my office. (Sorry about the mess Chris).

From there, I raced home, as best you can race in a fifty foot rig in ice and snow. I found a parking space, packed for my trip and headed for the RV place. I was hoping to just drop it off there and collect it next week when I get back but their lot was full. With the thaw-out in needed, the job would take all day so we agree to try again next week when the weather is supposed to get warmer. I’ll just have to deal with the plumbing damage.

So I was off to the storage facility to slip it into the last tight spot. That’s when I discovered that the electric switch for the front risers on our fifth wheel no longer work, so I hand-cranked it off the truck. On about the three hundredth turn, the crank slipped, hit the door, spun back and hit me in the face and simultaneously flipped snow into my eyes. When I reached up, my glasses flew over my head and landed in the snow. Warm as they were, they sank immediately, so I spent twenty precious minutes gently poking without stepping for fear of crushing them.

It could have been worse. I was dangerously low on diesel fuel, which I had neglected to get the day before. Or I could have blown two tires like I did on the way home last year.

I have learned on good lesson in all of this. RVing is strictly a summer activity and don’t let anyone tell you different.

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  1. Craniac Mary November 16, 2017 5:10 pm

    Oh wow! I hope you are now warm and comfy and that everything that needed fixing has been fixed. What a test of perseverence!

  2. Marilyn November 13, 2017 9:34 am

    Oh, my. Joe, you are more and more of a hero every day. Thank you for sharing your adventures (misadventures?) with all of us in your “whooper gallery”. Never give up. (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap)

  3. Dorothy N November 13, 2017 12:15 am

    Could more things have gone awry??? I can’t think of anything else worse except maybe the hauling truck breathing its last breath while hauling the RV. Thank you for all your efforts and your commitment to those elegant whoopers!!

  4. Susanne Shrader November 12, 2017 12:14 pm

    Last year’s story was heartbreaking and really not funny. This year’s story struck me similarly, especially the part where your glasses flew off into the snow. I’m glad your face wasn’t hurt. Have a cozy winter .

  5. Cheryl Murphy November 11, 2017 12:57 pm

    There aren’t any words to say to make this all better except we appreciate what you do…we really do! Thank you!!! (And sorry about the crummy weather.)

  6. Mindy November 11, 2017 11:28 am

    Oh my Joe….your story gives me heartburn as I read it. Bless you! Probably makes all the similar problems you have told about, having to do with Whoopers, seem like a piece of cake! I know how much trouble RVs can be in the warm months. We used to own one and my husband has sold them, and worked on many of them, for years. I can’t imagine doing all that in winter snow. It makes me admire and appreciate all that you and the OM crew do every year even more.

  7. Maggie Turk November 11, 2017 11:07 am

    And that is why my better half never invested into R V ING!!!!

  8. Janet Sutter November 11, 2017 9:44 am

    All my RV club just LOVE winter camping. They are crazy. Today we fold up the linens, put them in bags with dryer sheets to keep the mice out and take it to the storage place before our first snow shows up here in Illinois. We have a tow behind and winterizing is super easy. Air compressor or anti-freeze – either one takes about 10 minutes. Not so easy with a 5’er, I guess. Have a good Winter. Thanks for keeping us up on all the goings on. Happy Camping from a fellow RV’er