This Post is Meant for…
…those who need to know how to break camp. Anyone is welcome to read it, but that is who I intended it for. I hope to make a video about it soon, but I have been lazy and focused on art instead.
The following is a detailed description of the process I follow to break camp and move on. I have it written in a list and I have walked around with that list in my hand, using it as I broke camp. I still have the list and just before I drive off, I scan it to see if I’ve missed anything. I’ve done this process so many times that I know the list by heart. I check the list, because I’m only human and I don’t want to miss anything. I once knew someone who started driving away from his site. Another RVer ran beside him, waving his arms. My friend rolled down his window and the man said, “You’re awning is out!”
I used to have an Airstream travel trailer and, even though it was very different from my current motor home, there were still many similarities. Inside stowing and outside chores. I’d have to say that my motor home is easier for setting up and taking down camp.
I leave for Tucson, Arizona on Sunday. This is Wednesday evening. As usual, I’m a little anxious. I’ve been here in Oklahoma since about September 7th. That’s six weeks and I’ve gotten pretty settled in. When I stay somewhere for more than a couple weeks, I take the plastic bins out of my little pantry I put them on top of the bed over the cab area. The bed, when I’m traveling, is up against the ceiling. When I’m stopped like I am now, I let it extend down about two feet. It makes great storage.
The area under the bed is covered with what used to be the bedspread that came with the RV. I put Velcro on it and Velcro on the side of the cab-over bed. The windshield and side windows of the cab area radiate cold in the winter and heat in the summer. The quilted bedspread fits perfectly where you see it and keeps the main living area of the RV much more comfortable.
Travel Day Approaching
So when travel days are approaching, I take all of the things off the bed. The plastic bins get put back in the pantry. Having them out like you see above makes it easier to find things. Each bin is labeled with what it contains. They stack in the pantry. I have command hooks along the metal part of the bed so that I can hang hats or jackets or a grocery bag. Once all the stuff on the bed is stowed away, the whole rest of the RV is easy to prep.
There’s a shelf under the TV in the living area. It holds my electric pencil sharpener and my Homepod (for music). I stow those in the clothes drawers. I don’t have a lot of clothes, so its a good place to stow things that are breakable.
Its a good idea to check the contents of the refrigerator. I place a couple of tall items in between the drawer and the filtered water pitcher.
After I check that the contents of the fridge are good, I screw in the lock that holds the freezer and fridge door shut.
The galley area (kitchen) have things that I can leave right there on the counter. Some items have a bit of blue sticky putty (like teachers use to stick papers on the wall of the classroom) and that prevents things from tipping or sliding. My white Bialetti hot pot is something I don’t have secured down. I put that on the bed behind a couple of pillows. The Keurig…I put on the closet floor with my hanging clothes. It’ll be safe there. Anything else, I just stick it in the left sink. I keep a plastic bin in that sink. It fits perfectly and I can wash dishes in it. Its light enough that if its filled with rinse water, I can take it outside and pour the water on plants. I have two plants and I put those in the sink as well.
My little rolling cart with my art supplies can be secured to the back of the driver’s seat with a bungy cord if I’m going a short distance. If its a multi-day drive, I empty the cart, stowing things into their original bins over the dining table. The cart itself I will lay across my bed.
My RV has two bathrooms. Why? Good question. The answer is logical, but I don’t feel I need the small half bath. Its purpose is that when I’m on the road, my slide-outs are pulled in. The one in the bedroom causes the bed to go right up against the cabinets on the opposite wall, preventing me from reaching the large rear bathroom without climbing over the bed. So the half bath is on the left side of the RV, just before the bedroom. It’s never blocked in by a slide-out.
To get the rear bathroom ready for travel, I don’t have to do much at all. I have two small clear plastic boxes on top of the window. They are held down with Command Strip velcro and it has worked great.
I have a wooden box that I keep odds and ends in. I put some of the sticky blue putty under each corner and it has held the box in place.
Day Before Travel
On Saturday, the day before I leave, I’ll make sure my grey and black tanks are empty and I’ll check to see if I need to add any water to my freshwater tank so I can use it en-route. I’d be able to flush toilets and rinse out dishes. Sometimes I stay at places along the way, for the night, where there are no connections for electric, water, or sewer. I might stay at a Cracker Barrel if they have RV / Bus parking. It’s free. I eat breakfast in the restaurant as a courtesy to show my gratitude.
Dry Camping – no hookups
There are many places to stay where you can dry camp (no hookups) for the night. I’m able to do everything I need to when dry camping. I can shower. I can use my propane furnace.
My RV has a built-in generator, so I can turn that on and run it all night if I need to. It uses very little gasoline from the RV gas tank. I can run air conditioners, TVs, etc. I can run the generator while I’m driving if I need to. Lets say its really hot and the air conditioner from the front of the RV (the cab air conditioner) isn’t reaching Einstein in the back area. I can run the generator and then keep the temperature comfortable for him by using the cabin air conditioning. That is my last resort, as gasoline is expensive these days. Its nice to have the option however.
Good use of the generator
I’ll use the generator if I want to stop at a restaurant to have a hot meal (that I didn’t prepare). Leaving Einstein in a non-air conditioned RV would be very bad. Its no different than leaving a dog in a car in the summer, engine off, windows rolled up. I have a sensor in my RV that alerts me with both a text and an email when the temperature in the RV is too high for Einstein.
Day of Travel
On Sunday morning (the day I leave). I’ll take care of Einstein…give him his medicine for his thyroid, walk him, and feed him. I fix myself a bowl of cereal, and while I eat, I look at my Allstays app on my phone. It shows me all I need to know for my route. I can see campgrounds, whether they are KOA types or state parks, national parks, Cracker Barrels, etc. It shows me where I can get gas. It tells me details about all the places as well. Ratings. Pricing. Amenities. I don’t know what I’d do without it.
I like to pull up satellite images of gas stations to make sure that I can fit. Because I tow a small Jeep, I can’t back up. So gas stations where the pumps face the store are pretty much out of the question for me. I have to pull way forward so that my gas fill is at the pump farthest from the store (because my gas fill is in near the back of my RV). If its not going to leave me any turning space, I’d be in a pickle. I’d have to unhook the Jeep, move it out of the way, back up the RV, and get out of there. Then I’d need to re-hook up the Jeep. Not something I want to do.
I have a travel journal and in there I note two or three campgrounds that sound good, plus good gas stations along the way. They will be at various distances from my starting point. As I drive and begin to tire, I pick whichever one is near me. I pull into a rest area or gas station so I can call the campground to make a reservation.
Where Einstein Rides
After stowing the last items inside the RV, I put the table down so its a bed. Einstein travels on there. It has seat belts so I can secure him in. His seat belt has a long three foot tether on it so he can move around a bit. He wears a dog harness that goes around his shoulders and belly rather than around his neck. He’s able to get a drink of water from his dish. His food and water dishes are non-spill dishes so the water dish can have water in it even on the road.
Last Interior Items
I turn off the air conditioners if they’re on. I turn off the water heater, TVs, and any other items that I might have going.
I move outside and turn off the water tap, then unhook my hose from the tap and letting the water drain out before unhooking from the RV. I unhook the cable for cable TV, coil it up and stow it. If I had the septic hose hooked to the campground septic, I empty my tanks, if I hadn’t done so recently. I make sure the hose is empty. I can flush it out by hooking a non-potable-water-hose to a special intake that sprays water into the black tank until I can see clear water coming from it. At that point I unhook from the campground septic and from the RV. I put caps on each end, coil it up and stow it. Lastly I disconnect the power cable. My RV uses 50 amp electric, because I have a 35 foot motor home and it has two air conditioners.
The blue hose is called a water-ban hose. I don’t know why. Campgrounds usually close once water lines can freeze. Those that stay open may have their water lines at each site wrapped or mostly underground. My blue hose is heated. I plug it in to the campground’s electric pedestal at my site or I can plug it into an outside outlet on my RV exterior. I’d rather hook it to the pedestal so I’m not using some of the 50 amps I get from the campground. I have two of these blue hoses and together they mean I can be as far as 75 feet away from the water source.
The black and orange hose is the septic hose. These hoses go through that opening and then I can close the compartment door. My grey and black tanks are in the ceiling of this compartment. Being able to keep the wet bay closed up means that my tanks stay warm and are unlikely to freeze overnight. If I’m worried about the water in the tanks freezing, I can put a small space heater (I have a Broan) inside the bay and run the cord down through the hole and plug it in. I’ve had to do that many times.
Using one of the same tire-pressure gauges truckers use, I check all six of the RV tires and all four of the Jeep tires. I keep the Jeep tires at 40 psi and the RV tires at 90 psi. That is the cold pressure, meaning before the vehicle has been driven or towed. Once you start moving, the air inside the tires begins to heat up and you won’t get an accurate pressure. I have an inexpensive air compressor and it is a simple process to top off my tires.
Slide-outs, Levels, Cab Area
The last things I do are to pull in the slide-outs. Its as easy as flicking a switch. Once those are in, I hit another button and all of the leveling jacks are raised up. There is a curtain that covers the windows next to the driver’s seat and the passenger seat. I slide those towards the rear of their tracks and a cloth wraps around each one and it is snapped into a locked position. The front windshield has a blind that electronically rolls up and down. So I put that in an up position. Not all the way to the top. If I leave it down a foot or so, it acts as a sun-shade. Depending on where the sun is, it can be raised or lowered a bit more.
I stow the comforter (that you saw in the first image) that hung from the over-cab bed. I raise up the bed so it is against the ceiling.
Prepping the Cab Area
Finally I pour a few peanut m&ms into a cup and put it in the cup holder to left of the driver’s seat. I put a thermos of coffee or tea in the cup holder that is on the driver’s right. Me. I’m the driver. The area where the speedometer and other monitors are is large and I can sit my cell phone there in case I need to use the GPS on it. I don’t usually need to do that. The RV has a really nice GPS. I had to enter in the length, height and weight of the RV. It won’t plan routes for me that have bridges that are too low or roads that are too narrow for me. It shows me where campgrounds are, truck stops, rest areas, etc.
Do a Walk-around
Before I get into the driver’s seat and drive away, I do a walk-around. I check to make sure that all the doors to my storage compartments are shut and locked. Are my levels are up. I make sure the slide-outs are fully in, that all my hoses and cords are put away, and nothing is left laying outside. Sometimes I put a plastic table cloth on the campground-provided picnic table. Don’t want to leave that behind. I make sure I’ve left the campsite as clean or cleaner than it was when I arrived.
Time to Head Out
It’s NOT frightening to drive my motor home. I’m cautious, trying not to exceed 65 mph. Sixty is best, for the sake of miles-per-gallon, but I’ve gone 65. That means everyone on the road is passing me. Hopefully they don’t do to me what they do to one another…pull into my lane just in front of me. I don’t slow down as quickly as a car. Cars on entrance ramps expect everyone to move over so they can merge. That isn’t always possible for me. I try my best to accommodate, but I will not put my vehicle or myself in danger.
Now you have it. It sounds very complicated. It really isn’t. You become accustomed to all of this quickly. If there are two of you, one can do the inside stuff and the other can do the exterior stuff. I love being on the road. I do my best thinking and daydreaming when I’m on the road. I’m a careful driver. I’m conscious of my position within my lane, where the cars are around me, taking curves cautiously. I use cruise control, but mainly on flat terrain and straight stretches. There are lots of those in the West. I go up mountains slower, down carefully, letting the engine help slow me.
I’ll arrive in Tucson on October 31st. I’m excited to get there. I’ll be attending an RVing Women convention. I have gone once before…two years ago. It was an absolute blast!