Saturday, November 23, 2013

Our Little Winnebago Chalet! Pt. 2

Shakedown trip!

Where to go?  Eric has been on vacation, but much of it was eaten up with me being in California and getting the Little Chalet outfitted for the road.  We decided to stay local and practical and go to an RV park only 20 miles away on the bank of the Columbia River.  I would drive separately in my car--just in case.  No rain was in the forecast, although the temperatures would be chilly! 

One little hiccup, we were waiting for an online delivery to arrive and couldn't leave until it did. Tracking the package kept us on pins and needles as we watched Thursday start to slip away.  We were determined to make this a 2-nighter and not let something as ridiculous as a delivery spoil our plans.

At 3:15pm, it arrived.  Finally!  And throughout the day we had packed and gone through our checklist to be ready to leave as soon as possible.

We got into the park at 4:20pm, drove to our space, and Eric had his first experience hooking us up.  And we learned our first lesson:  1. Some parks have hookups on either side of the space and you can use whichever one you want.  This came in handy for us.  It also helped us to advise a couple who pulled in 2 spaces away yesterday morning and had the same question.

Click on the photos to see them full-sized
Here's one of the first photos I took upon arrival.  That's our Little Chalet on the right with my Honda next to it.  We were one of two Class C RVs at the time.  The rest of the park were trailers, a lot of 5th wheels, and about 4 gorgeous Class As, including the 2 to our left.

One thing with being in a motor home as opposed to a hotel--you can't just drop your bags and go play.  There is work to do, inside and out.  I checked us in and got wifi codes (yes, we roughed it,) Eric handled the hookups, and then I set up things in the kitchen and bathroom (soaps, towels, etc.) We were definitely one of the smaller rigs there and joked about being the new riff-raff in town!

Something else we learned:  2.  It's good to have a shopping area nearby--just in case.  Well, at least when you are greenhorns, like us.  Yes, in less than an hour we were back in my car and driving to the local WalMart.  We discovered that for privacy and trapping the heat in the living area, we needed something to separate that area from the cab.  (The fancy Class A RVs have curtain rods that go all around the front windows.  We aren't that fancy in our little Class C.)  We got a tension curtain rod and a gray, nondescript curtain. Getting back to the RV park, we discovered that we should've bought TWO curtains, and knew that another WalMart trip would be in order the next day.

It was time for dinner.  We had planned out every meal ahead of time and the key word was SIMPLE. Hot dogs and chips for dinner.  Easy enough.  And we were experimenting with some plates and bowls we bought specifically for the RV.  (Brilliantly, none of them were microwavable.) Eric set up his laptop and, since the wifi rules were pretty strict and the connection not that great, we just watched a Friends DVD on his computer as we relaxed over dinner.

After dinner I learned something else:  3.  Our RV's water heater makes the sink water boiling hot! Yes, I learned that the hard way and didn't repeat the mistake of turning on the hot water first ever again.

By this time it was dark and very cold outside.  But at the pace we'd been going we weren't quite ready to take off our shoes and stay inside.  So we put on our jackets and gloves and took a lap around the park.  Most, but not all of the RVs and trailers looked occupied, and we marveled at the sizes of many, the sideouts, and decided that, while they looked very pretty luxurious, they were completely unnecessary for our needs.

Back inside, we watched a bit more Friends and then went to bed early.  Of course that doesn't mean going to sleep early.  It's an adjustment sleeping in a little motor home on the first night.  And I learned something else:  4. Make sure you completely empty your "personal tank" before curling up in the bed above the cab.  Yes, I slept in the top bunk and Eric slept on the fold-out sofa.  None of the beds are really conducive to fit both of us.  We used our high-tech zero-degree sleeping bags and some blankets.  Whenever I travel I always sleep terribly the first night, and this was no different.  So I read my current book and rested the best I could.  We used both the RV heater and a box heater we had bought to stay warm.  Despite the heaters, I ended up sleeping in the coldest spot, but stayed toasty under the covers, even if I did keep banging my hand on the ceiling, 

The next morning we awoke to a TON of condensation on the inside of the RV.  5. Ceiling vents really are important!  We learned that the hard way, and Eric did a 7:30am WalMart run for a squeegee.  Drippy water was everywhere.  Something we needed to address in the future. (In my naivetee, I always thought the ceiling vents were just for ventilation, not a necessity.)

But look at the view outside that morning!
Just extra proof that we really did make it outside of our driveway.

Then, time for breakfast!
I promise it tasted better than it looks.  Just out of curiosity we tried one of the Mountain House freeze-dried breakfast items.  It wasn't bad!  (Tortillas would've been a great addition.)  All I had to do was boil water, so it was very easy.  We've tried the Mountain House Beef Stew and that was good too.

The picture above is inside after the first night.  All the bedding is nicely stored up top.  You can see how one curtain wasn't sufficient.  And that nice slant of our table?  Something else we (meaning Eric) is going to fix down the road.  That after-market table leg is a wee bit too tall.

Then it was time to shower.  I got to be the lab rat with the RV shower.  That thing is teeny tiny!!  There is barely enough room to do the basics, but I did.  Eric used the camp shower.  I also discovered upon cleaning the inside last Wednesday that the shower curtain had a 5 foot vertical rip in it.  Something else we didn't look at while at the lot.  Out came the duct tape. 

Next door to us was a very nice couple in a 34 foot Class A Winnebago.  We talked to the wife, Sue, who was out walking her dog.  She and her husband had started out with a 31 foot Class C and so we showed her the inside of ours.  Then we saw the inside of their RV and met her husband, Larry.  Such nice people!  We chatted for about an hour and Larry even gave Eric a roll of automotive paper towels for the next time we encounter the condensation issue and checked our sewer hookup when Eric had a question.  They were very hospitable and helpful. (They had bought theirs used--a 2006--after the first owner put only 1500 miles on it, backed into something, and was scared to drive it ever again.  1500 miles!)

And then, another field trip (the last one) to WalMart again.  This time to get a second curtain, more automotive paper towels, and some moisture absorbers.  And, what the heck, we decided to get lunch at Subway.

The day was flying! We ate in the RV and then Eric wanted to check some outdoor leaks he'd noticed.  It was already around 3pm.

A while later we went out for another walk.  It was cold, but pretty!
A big cargo ship and the wake it left behind...

Then, because it seemed like a prerequisite, we watched the Robin William's movie RV on the laptop.  The park had movies for borrowing.  What a silly, funny film, and the perfect movie in the context of where we were.  We howled with laughter, sitting on the sofa, wrapped in blankets in our Little Chalet.

Night 2--we both slept a lot better after more of a piecemeal type dinner.  Snacks (beef jerky and a Milky Way Dark) for me, summer sausage/cheese/Ritz/honey mustard for Eric.

Like the night before, the temp got down to about 21 degrees, this time freezing the little brass elbow that we had our freshwater hose connected to.  Result?  No water this morning!  Eventually it thawed and wasn't too big of an issue, but we do see the need to insulate the hose if we're going to camp this time of year.

I made scrambled eggs for breakfast (real, organic eggs) which we ate with some yummy purple organic grapes.  Then, after doing the dishes, I went to take more pictures outside.
That's us on the right, with my car backed into the sunlight to thaw the ice on the windshield.  Another Class C had moved in next door late last night.  All 3 husbands were outside working on hookups, etc at the same time.

The 3 Class C motor homes from the front. Ours is on the left.  The couple on the far right was on their first RV trip too.  They bought theirs around the same time as we got ours.  The middle one is a rental.

All in all, we had a really fun time.  Yes, you bump into each other more than in a hotel room.  Yes, there's more work, but it is still fun to be in your own self-contained space that you can arrange any way you want and drive anywhere you want.

This park had a lot of rules, but it was a very nice park with a great view.  Rules are fine if they are within reason, which these were.  (Mostly they were regarding liability issues--fires, pets, kids and the pool, and sewer fittings.)  They obviously try to maintain a high standard, which I fully support, and we aren't the rule breaker sort anyway. I do like that the park has a "quiet time" from 10pm to 8am.

We would definitely go there again! We learned a lot and laughed at our few bumblings.  Overall we think we did really well and look forward to going out again.  Maybe one more cold weather trip before we store the Little Chalet, depending on the rain forecast.  It's just too bad that we have to kennel Bailey for these trips, but there is no space for him in the Chalet.

Another lovely view of the river.

The first thing I did after we got home and unpacked?  I typed up our checklists!  These are going to be invaluable for the future.  I got some help from an app I found and modified the lists for our needs.
So we are motorhomeys now!  This is going to be fun. 

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