Last Tuesday morning, on the 20th, Eric and I finally started west, heading to the Pittsburgh area via Gettysburg. I didn’t sleep very well the night before – probably a combination of excitement and anxiety! As I’ve said before, driving the RV by itself is one thing. But driving it while towing a car is at another level entirely.
I very meticulously made a checklist so I wouldn’t forget all the little things I had to do, especially since this was my first time. My plan was to create a checklist which I will laminate, and then re-use with an erasable marker each time. There are so many critical items, and I don’t want to rely on my memory. For example, you don’t want to forget to close and lock an exterior compartment, and end up with your belongings littering the road behind you. So I printed out the checklist and put it on a clipboard (what a nerd!).
The first thing I did outside was to work on securing my awning. During the previous week, the RV mechanic had shown me how to do it. I had taken a few notes, which I’d transcribed into my checklist. Well, as soon as I unlocked one of the side brackets, that side of the awning immediately fell several feet, and drenched my nice neat and tidy checklist with gallons of water which had been sitting on the top of it. This should not have been a surprise to me, since it had poured rain the day before, but I was unprepared. Another lesson learned!
When I got to the point where I was supposed to push the awning up and it was supposed to roll itself onto the holder as it rose to meet the RV at the top, I realized that water was inside the two layers of the awning. A great deal of water. I’ve written before that I knew I had an awning problem when I bought the rig, but I thought it had some life left in it before it needed replacing. Evidently not. After consulting with Eric, we made three holes on the underside of the awning so the water could run out, and then closed it up. A new awning is definitely on the list for when I take it into the shop in October.
Then when I was securing the shower door, I noticed some water in the base, and realized that the grey water tank was full and had slightly overflowed. The weekly pump out at the campsite was on Wednesdays, and this was Tuesday morning. I hadn’t overflowed before, so this was a surprise. Most of my grey water use is by washing dishes; I’ve taken my showers in the bathhouse. Thank goodness the overflow goes directly into the shower, and this bit of information was good to know.
The rest of the packing up was uneventful, including hitching up the dinghy to the RV. And we were off – at the crack of noon!!
According to Google maps, the drive to Gettysburg would be three hours in a normal car. We figured it would take us four hours. It took us five. We did make a longish stop for lunch, but there were lots of times when we weren’t going the speed limit. Eric drove behind me to keep an eye on me!
The scariest part was when I found myself in a construction zone with only two lanes. I was in the right lane with no shoulder, and a stream of huge trucks was zooming past me on the left. When trucks pass you, they create this vacuum which either sucks you toward them, or pushes you to the right, so you have to constantly compensate. And I had no wiggle room. Talk about white knuckles! Eric told me later that he was sure I was going to scrape the concrete construction barrier – that’s how close I was to the right side. But I didn’t, and with more practice as the day went on, I was able to better judge the center of the lane, and also prepare for those passing trucks.
And in between being terrified, I had this incredible feeling of relief and amazement that we were actually finally on the road, and all the plans were about to become reality.