After five successful nights of RV living, I had a nice happy post in my head about how great we were doing and how really this had been pretty easy so far.
I decided not to finish writing that one because I didn’t want to jinx us. I was waiting for the inevitable other shoe to drop.
And then it did.
We left Harrisburg, Penn., on Thursday and drove 294 miles to a campground off I-70 in Ohio for the night. Mark said the towing was easy, and he would have been happy to drive further.
We started setting up the rig – unhitching, hooking up the power, the water, the sewer and pulling out the slide-outs.
For the uninitiated, RV slide-outs (or slides for short) are extensions that give you extra interior space. We have four of them – one in the master bedroom, one in the living room and one for each bunk in the back. They operate on a rack and pinion slide system in the floor, powered by either electricity or the RV battery. They slide into the RV while you are driving, kind of like one box fitting into another. When you park, you hit a button to extend each slide out.
The slides each have a frame around the interior made mostly out of fiberboard, metal and staples. We know this to be true because, thanks to an operator error, we got an up-close look at what the frame looks like when it is ripped from the slide-out box.
A basic rule of slide-out operation is to check and make sure nothing is in the way of the box as it moves in and out. One person stands at the control panel while another watches the slide. To do this, we have to put our slides out in a certain order. Otherwise, we have areas where we can’t see.
Before I finish the story, it should be noted that the dealer specifically warned us to always make sure a certain drawer is closed before extending the left rear slide. The left rear slide is also the one that is the hardest to get a visual on, so it should come out last.
Thursday night, the second time ever putting out the slides, my 14-year-old was operating the control panel while I was watching the slides. We hadn’t yet marked which button was for which slide, so I told him to push one and I would let him know if he needed to stop.
We heard a crunch – at the exact same moment that I realized we were opening the left rear slide, and I couldn’t see anything on that side of the room.
The drawer we had been warned about had come open while we were driving and was caught on the slide frame as it started to extended.
The damage is only cosmetic, and most likely easy to fix. One piece of the frame came off but is still intact, while several other parts need to be pushed back in place and stapled or nailed. We are going to try and fix it ourselves, but if not it could be a costly trip to the shop.
Luckily for me, my family has a great outlook and sense of humor. All we could do was laugh, and be thankful no one was hurt and the rig was still drivable.
– One of our fancy hydraulic jacks is leaking fluid.
– Yesterday’s 238-mile towing adventure to northeastern Indiana included a wrong turn, some low-hanging power lines and slight driver discomfort at high speeds.
– After backing into our campsite yesterday afternoon (yes backing in, that is no joke), we unhitched the rig and got all leveled, only to realize after the jacks extended that the tires on one side were off the ground. We had to pull up the jacks, re-hitch, pull out and back in again on a flatter part of the site.
If we’re counting, these are technically glitches four, five, six and seven. But I’m going to stop keeping track now. I have a feeling the numbers will soon exceed my ability to do math.