What Could Go Wrong? RVing Gone Bad

Owning our camper, Birdy, has brought us plenty of good adventures already. Not surprisingly, with with the good comes the bad. Maybe we should just call them learning experiences. We have learned so much already.

Learning Experience #1: RV Fridge

RV refrigerators can be temperamental. Or, maybe they aren’t, and maybe we should have learned how to operate ours before hitting the road.

On our first trip, we stopped to buy cold groceries right before we entered the campground. We loaded the fridge, plugged in the electric, and set up camp. Later, I check the fridge and was shocked to find all of our cold groceries had warmed to room temperature. The fridge wasn’t cold at all, nor was it blowing cold air. I panicked, thinking the fridge was totally broken.

Luckily, we had Internet access and could investigate the fridge situation. I was surprised to learn that we should have cooled the fridge for hours before adding groceries. I also learned that RV fridges do not cool the same way as traditional fridges. They cool by expelling the hot air, instead of by blowing in cold air (this may not be technically correct, but that’s how my brain understood it). Who knew?

To keep our groceries from spoiling, my husband made a long trip to the closest gas station for ice, which we sat in the fridge to jump start the cooling process. We went to sleep for the evening.

The next morning, we awoke to find the floor soaking wet. I panicked, thinking we had a water pipe leaking somewhere in the trailer. Further investigation led us to discover some leftover ice had melted and was leaking out of our cooler.

Lesson learned: Patience, Grasshopper. Let the fridge cool for hours before adding groceries.

Learning Experience #2: RV Tires

The morning of our next trip, my husband and I both noticed the camper tires looked a little low; however, I’ve checked many a tire, thinking they were low, only to discover they were fine. We decided we should check them, but made the decision to do it at a gas station up the road.

When we stopped for gas, I noticed an air machine and planned to check our tires when my husband returned from paying inside. However, he came out excited about his purchase of a wiffle ball set (apparently, these are hard to find?). Our conversation focused on whether or not we truly needed a wiffle ball set as we pulled onto the road.

We continued our trip north on the interstate and made some progress up the road when my husband said, “This is suddenly feeling weird” referencing his steering wheel. I looked out my mirror and exclaimed, “There’s smoke coming off the side.” He pulled to the side of the road.

We discovered a shredded tire. Within thirty minutes, with the help of our oldest son, we changed to our spare tire and were back on the road.

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Lesson learned: When your instincts tell you to check the tires, you really should check the darn tires. Don’t be distracted by wiffle ball sets.

The tire blow out was on our way to Iowa, and we almost had a different kind of blow out on our way home.

Learning Experience #3: Bike Storage

As we drove across the rural countryside, I was getting nervous about our prospects of finding a gas station. Luckily, we finally found a tiny town that had a gas station. We pulled in and started filling the tank and noticed a “beep beep beep.” At first, I thought the sound was coming from the gas station or from a nearby vehicle. It didn’t take long for the “beep beep beep” to really enter my consciousness and force me to realize it was coming from our camper.

As I opened the camper door, a propane smell poured out from inside. I realized the “beep beep beep” was the carbon monoxide detector, warning us about the gas leak inside. We started hopping around, trying to air out the camper and figure out what had happened.

Once we felt safe enough to enter the camper, we soon discovered the source of our troubles. We were hauling bicycles inside our camper, and they were leaning against the kitchen counter. A set of handlebars nudged a knob on the stove just enough to push it down and around, turning on the propane.

Our return trip home was delayed by twenty minutes, as we gave the camper time to air out.

We spent a lot of time laughing about our foolishness as we made our way back to the highway. The image of our trailer exploding gave us plenty of giggles, even though it should not have.

Lesson learned: Turn off the propane while traveling (or buy a bike rack and keep those things out of the camper).

P.S. Our next purchase was a bike rack. Now our bikes are safely secured to the bumper of our camper. We’re holding our breath and hoping the bumper doesn’t fall off next…

The Final Lesson…

I have a strong Type A personality, and I’m a planner and organizer by nature. But, our RV adventures are giving me plenty of practice in learning not to sweat the small stuff. I know these crazy things that happen are an important piece of the puzzle of memories we’ll carry with us. They’re the stories we’ll laugh about for years to come.

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