We recently purchased a new travel trailer. Specifically a Keystone Bullet Premier travel trailer. It’s 35 feet long, full kitchen, bath and bedroom. With plenty of room for the two of us and our three dogs. On our first trip in our new rig, we learned three things.
We spent several weeks watching YouTube videos, and joining different RV groups on Facebook. We had gotten lots of advice, had made a bunch of ‘necessary’ purchases, and we felt like we were ready for our first adventure! After over a week sitting in our front yard, it was time. Stocked with our clothes and necessities, the fridge full of food and beer, everything we could think of stowed away and ready to go. It was time.
The first challenge I faced was connecting our new travel trailer to my truck. I had of course gotten the whirlwind Reader’s Digest condensed version of instructions on how to connect everything from the salesman when we had brought our new travel trailer home. I did my best to remember what they had told me, and was able to get the trailer hooked up to my truck without major incident. One last check that we had everything we needed, and we were on our way!
Taking the advice of our new RV’ing friends on Facebook, we chose a campground that was relatively close to the Homestead – traveling only about 50 miles over to a campground right on the coast of Maine called Searsport Shores. This was our first RV experience, but the folks there were super nice and friendly. After check-in, one of their staff led us down to our site and answered all our questions. He even hung around to make sure we didn’t need anything while we went through our set-up checklist.
First Lesson Learned:
We knew from our research that the campground only had 30-amp service. I had learned this was fine, and that you can run a rig with 50-amp wiring on 30-amps with no problem, and this was my intent. When I went to plug in my fancy new 50-amp cable that came with my rig however, I learned that 30-amp service uses a different plug than 50-amp service. You need an adapter to connect a 50-amp plug to 30-amp service.
For one terrifying moment, I contemplated what I was going to do. We were supposed to be there for a week, and absolutely needed power. Just as I was going through the list in my head of stores within a 100 miles that might carry a 30-amp to 50-amp adapter, the nice man from the campground (seeing my dilemma) offered to lend me one. That’s right, they kept spares on hand for just such occasions, and they were happy to lend us one, free of charge. That’s bonus points for the campground right there.
We spent a week there at Searsport Shores, and had a fantastic time. One of the things we were “testing out” on this first trip was our ability to work from our new rig. Both the Mrs. and I have been teleworking since COVID hit, and a critical part of this new investment was that we be able to continue to work. After sorting out a suddenly discovered shortage of 110v outlets inside the rig by running to the store for an extension cord and power strip, we were setup and ready to work.
Second Lesson Learned:
Check your rig for the little things like 110v outlets. We knew it had them, but had not bothered to inventory exactly how many there were, and where exactly they were located. Had we done this while the rig was at home I would have had time to plan a better solution. As it was the only usable outlet was in the kitchen. This meant running an extension cord across the rig to the table where we were working. It did the job, but was less than optimal. For the next trip, I will at least have a more permanent extension cord solution, tucked out of the way.
In the evenings after we were done working for the day, we would take the dogs (we have three – Zoey, our 9 year old Golden Doodle, Jelly Bean, our 3 year old Shih-Tzu/Yorkie mix, and Freya, our 10-week old Golden Doodle puppy) for a walk down by the ocean to watch the sunset. Then back to the rig for dinner and a campfire. One conclusion we were able to draw from this week is that we like the RV lifestyle. It’s just nice to be able to travel somewhere, and still have your own home with you wherever you go.
The campground offers a service to pump out your black and grey water tanks for you. After seeing this done for the rigs nearby a couple of times over the course of the week, I decided this was the way to go. After three days or so, our tanks were two-thirds full, so I called the front desk to schedule a visit. I thought they might show the next day, but the nice lady at the desk told me their guy could be there in 15 minutes. Score more bonus point for the campground.
A nice young man showed up a short while later. He seemed very knowledgeable, and set to work immediately. As he prepared to connect his hose to my grey/black water outlet, he removed the outer cap, and disaster struck. Apparently both of the valves controlling the grey and black water feeds were in the open position, and he did not notice this. I did not notice this either. Did I mention this rig was brand new to us? Instantly a gush of water – grey and black water mixed – came pouring out of the outlet pipe. Quickly the nice young man leapt into action, reaching in and closing the two valves before too much came out.
We both stood there for a moment, not knowing what to do. “Is this one of those things we have to call the EPA about or something?” The nice young man looked around a bit before answering, then said “No. This is one of those things we don’t tell anybody about.” Works for me.
Third Lesson Learned:
Know your rig! Take the time to learn how all the valves and controls work, and what they do. Take the time at home, before you are in the field to truly understand how everything works. This goes not only for the plumbing, but the electrical too. Know how things are connected, where the fuses are, what switch controls what. All of this is new, and can at times be counter-intuitive. Our particular disaster was relatively minor, and a good lesson learned. I can be sure I will never make that mistake with the valves again!
After a fun week on the coast, it was time to break camp, call our maiden voyage a success, and head home with our rig. Despite the lessons learned, and even after living in it together for a week, we were no less excited and looking forward to our next adventure. Stay tuned for more updates from the road!
UPDATE: There is another lesson around sleeping on the mattress in our new rig, but I will include that in my next post!