Filed under: Comfort at Camp, Preparation & Readiness, Safety on the Road
ONCE IS ENOUGH! – Mistakes We Have Made so You Don’t Have to.
#1. While preparing the trailer at a National Park camping site for travel down the mountain parkway, I forgot to crank down the rooftop TV antenna. This, of course, made the trailer much higher than the 13’ clearance of a tunnel up ahead. As we entered the tunnel, I heard a crunching noise. Lesson Learned: Always check to be sure that your TV antenna is cranked down before leaving your campsite. The result can not only be the replacement of an antenna but some rather expensive repairs to your rubber roof membrane.
#2. Once when coupling the fifth wheel to the truck I became distracted by a visiting camper that was curious about the characteristics of our tow vehicle. I completely forgot to check that the jaws on the hitch had locked around the fifth wheel pin. When I pulled out the trailer came loose from the hitch and crashed down on the truck bed. Lessons Learned: (1) Never allow distractions while hooking up the trailer to the hitch. (2) Body shops charge a lot of money to fix the crushed sides of a pick-up bed. (3) Paying the extra $200 for a “Bed Saver” on the hitch is a worthwhile investment.
#3. We were towing a travel trailer down Interstate 85 at 60 mph, I was passed by a motorist that was blowing his horn and pointing to the back of the trailer. It was a few more miles down the road before we could safely pull off at a rest stop. The two bicycles on their carrier, which was bolted to the sewer hose bumper of the trailer, had been dragging on the pavement for quite a few miles. The wheels were scraped off as were the pedals. Lessons Learned: (1) The sewer hose bumper on a trailer is not structurally strong enough for a two-bicycle carrier load. (2) A rear-view camera can help to monitor what is going on behind the camper.
#4. After leaving a campground in Georgia pulling a travel trailer, we drove another 300 miles to Fort Wilderness. When I walked back to retrieve my sewer hose the cap on the end of the storage compartment was missing – along with the sewer hose. Apparently, I had forgotten to replace the cap at the previous campground. Lessons Learned: (1) Always be sure the caps on your sewer hose container are tightly in place. (2) The cost of a replacement sewer hose at a resort park camp store can be extremely expensive!
#5. We hurriedly left home on the way to a club rally. In our rush I managed to get the 7-way trailer light connector into the socket but did not push it in far enough for the swing-up lid to secure the plug in place. The trailer end of the cord fell out of the socket and began to drag on the pavement as we proceeded down the highway. Of course, we did not have any turn signals, brake lights or even working brakes on the trailer. After a rather scary attempt to stop for a traffic light with no trailer brakes we pulled off to see what the problem might be. We discovered a disconnected plug and cable from the camper that had been damaged beyond use. Lucky for us, an auto parts store near-by had a replacement plug. Lessons Learned: (1) Always double check to be sure the connector plug is secure (2) Carry the tools needed to replace a damaged connector.
#6. We were all hitched up and had just pulled out of the campground onto the highway when we were suddenly thrown forward in our vehicle seats. The seat belt dug in tightly, leaving a red abrasion across my wife’s shoulder. As I made the right turn out of the campground, I pulled the pin out of the trailer’s breakaway switch, locking up the trailer brakes. Lesson Learned: (1) Always leave enough slack in the breakaway switch cable to easily make turns.
#7. I happened to glance back in my outside rear view mirror when I noticed the left front landing jack pad on our fifth wheel trailer rubbing on the pavement. Realizing that I could easily ruin the entire jack leg I pulled over on the shoulder of the road to correct the problem. One of the spring-loaded pins that hold the front landing jack pads up on our fifth wheel trailer was not locked. As I reached down to grab the pad on the leg to raise it up, I was severely burned. Lessons Learned: (1) Metal that has been rubbing on the pavement will be red hot. (2) Double check to be sure your landing jacks are securely locked in place.
#8. We were setting up our trailer on a slightly inclined site at a State Park. I raised the front jack to lift the trailer off of the hitch ball when all of a sudden it began to roll backwards. There was nothing I could do as I watched in horror as the camper proceeded to roll down the incline and toward another camper. Lucky for us there was a hole in the driveway that caught the front camper jack foot and stopped the trailer. The jack was bent beyond repair, but it saved us even greater damage. Lessons Learned: (1) Always chock your trailer wheels before uncoupling from your tow vehicle. (2) You cannot catch a runaway trailer by grabbing hold of the door handle.
#9. We have a rather extensive printed check list that we go over just before we pull out with the camper so that we are sure all of the steps have been completed. One item we neglected to put on the list was securing the travel lock on the refrigerator door. We arrived at our campsite only to discover spilled milk, broken eggs and other refrigerator contents scattered all over the floor. Lessons Learned: (1) Locking the refrigerator door needs to be added to the checklist. (2) Broken eggs that are still in the carton can be used to make a nice dinner omelet. (3) It takes a lot of paper towels to clean up spilled milk and broken eggs.
#10. The GPS insisted that the next road to the right was the entrance to our campground. As we swung our truck and 30 foot trailer onto the new road we immediately began to wonder what we had gotten into. The road was dirt and deeply rutted. Add to that a recent downpour that had created slurry of red mud. There was nowhere to turn around as the situation progressively became even worse. Finally, we arrived back on a hard surface road that led to the campground entrance. Lessons Learned: (1) The GPS will pick the shortest route, even if it is a dirt road. (2) Always preview GPS routing prior to your planned trip and compare it to a reliable area map. (3) Red Georgia clay does not easily wash off of campers, trucks or clothes.
What lessons have YOU learned that need to be added to this posting?
Please share any you might have in the comments section!
One more commen from us: We are finally back on the road after a long winter sabbatical. We landed at the Holiday Trav-L-Park in Virginia Beach Sunday night. The weather is beautiful, the beach is beautiful, and the jets flying overhead from the Oceana Naval Air Station are truly sounds of freedom. That’s what all of this is about – freedom to live and explore this great country and all of it’s majestic beauty (even if diesel fuel is now $4.00 a gallon).
HAPPY AND SAFE CAMPING TRAILS TO ALL!
Do you camp with a pet? Please visit my No Pet Add-On Fees website at http://vastateparkscamping.com/ or by clicking on the blue highlighted and underlined text above for information regarding camping with pets in Virginia State Parks.
Private e-mails can be sent to: RandynNancyageeatgmaildotcom (substitute a @ symbol for the bold at and a period . for the bold dot when entering the address into your e-mail program).