Saturday, May 14, 2011

Our First Night

If you have been reading along in order you know that this is the day that we picked up our Roadtrek 190 Popular from the dealer. We had decided to spend that night in a campground not too far from the dealer (we live 200 miles one way from the dealer) so that if we discovered any problems we could drive back to him the next day with our car (used to drive to PA to pick up the RV) and the Roadtrek, and not have to make a two vehicle trip back to PA.

We arrived at the campground at 6:30 pm, one half hour after the campground office closed. It was a good thing that I had called along the way. When we arrived I found a note on the office door with my name on it that had a map and several spaces highlighted with a marker for us to choose from. We picked a space that was right across from the office and adjacent to restrooms (just in case). We had the ability to pick a space that had vacant spaces on both sides. There were other rvs parked further down from us and in another section of the campground. We pulled our car up into our space next to the Roadtrek.

Many of the restaurants in this area close at 8:00 pm, so we did not really have much time, but I wanted to test the 110v power in the hook up of the campsite that we choose. We got out the adapter for 15 amp to 30 amp, the voltage meter, and the polarity tester. I never thought to cut the adapter from the card and it was held on by plastic pull bands in three places. What I had not thought to bring was a set of tools - at least something strong enough to cut these bands. We had a small knife and a pocket knife - neither was strong enough to cut through the plastic. I finally just ripped the cardboard away and went off to the power box with the adapter. First I checked the polarity - good. I then plugged in the voltage meter and it looked good. Great. Put it all away and head off to the restaurant that I had planned on eating at.

I now drove the Roadtrek for the first time. My wife drove it following me from the dealer on the hour and a half trip to the campground. I headed off in the Roadtrek through the turning and slightly hilly Pennsylvania farm roads. It was easy to handle and drove nicely. The large V8 engine did seem to strain a bit when first starting - or perhaps we just thought so. Once it was rolling it had plenty of power. As we were driving Meryl said to me that she felt it pull to the right when she drove it. We got to a main road that was straight and I lessened my grip on the wheel in a straight-away and the van moved toward the right. Nothing that one could not compensate for but it definitely felt out of alignment. OK - we would have to head back to the dealer the next day to see what they could do about it.

We arrived at the restaurant and parked in the parking lot. It fit nicely in a standard parking space. It was still light outside when we went into the restaurant and we had dinner. When we came back out to the Roadtrek, it seemed as if there was light coming out from the inside. It was now dark out. I opened the drivers door and I could see two ceiling lights on and also the GPS. Well, I have since learned that when you open the door, the GPS screen comes on. But those two lights baffled us. We did not THINK that they were on before, BUT the salesman taking us through the van was turning things on and off and our heads were spinning such that it would have been possible for these lights to be left on and in the daylight we would not have noticed. I went in and clicked each of the light switches to off. They are rocker switches and were both on. We started to wonder how this could happen. Is there a dusk sensor for the cabin lights. There is for the vehicle headlights. Perhaps the two are connected? But the switches would not physically be moved. That seems impossible. I decided that the lights must have been left on and that was that. (More to come about this in my next article.) We buckled in and started back to the campground. Not it was fully dark outside and we would be setting up in the dark. I did bring a small but bright LED flashlight. I drove the Roadtrek back to the campground, now on the same turning farm roads through the Amish farm fields - but this time in the dark with no road lights. Meryl was quick to point out that I have done that before. It would have been nice to be driving at night on well lit roads, but fine. We got back to the campground at almost 9 pm.

I backed into the site and we got out to start hooking up. First I checked to see how level we were - we only need that for our comfort as the refrigerator is electric and does not need to be kept level as a "three-way" fridge does. We were slightly off level toward the rear driver's corner. I tried moving the Roadtrek in the parking place - no difference. It was not really noticeable walking around inside so I left it where it was.

All of what we both read in advance was to hook up the electric first - so you are not standing in a puddle of water when you plug in the 30 amp plug that sits next to the water hose faucet for your water supply. We got the large electric cord out of the compartment on the side and plugged it in. Make sure the power box breaker is OFF, plug in, and turn the breaker ON. Easy. Done.

What was odd was that the with the cord coming out the bottom of the compartment the door could no longer be closed. There was a hole in the compartment wall leading to a place that the cord would go out without interfering with the door, but the plastic star cap on that hole seemed too small to put the large plug on the cord through. We unhooked and tried it and Meryl said it was too tight a fit and we did not want to force anything. Someone would have told us about this when we were being shown the RV on delivery... Well, that someone did not know what he was telling us about. We left the cord coming out the compartment and decided that the door would just remain open enough to let the cord out.

It was now time to hook up the water. Both Meryl and I had read that water connections at campgrounds should be sanitized before using them. People touch them, a dog may have used it instead of a tree, etc. and germs grow. To sanitize it is simple - mix bleach and water in a spray bottle and squirt it outside and inside the faucet. Let it stand for a minute or so and then run the water to flush out the bleach. What we were not sure of was how much bleach to water - and everyone who had answered me on the internet forum about this a few days before had a different mixture from ten to one to 100% bleach. We decided to go with the directions on the bleach bottle for mixing it as a disinfectant. Several squirts later and that was done.

We got out the hoses that we bought. We were very close to the faucet so I chose the ten foot hose. I hooked that up and ran some water through the hose to clear it out. We got out the filter that we purchased for the hose line and also the pressure regulator. We quickly found that where the Roadtrek's water inlet for "city" water - yes, if you connect it to a hose - even in the country - you are connecting it to "city" water - anyway - the inlet is very low to the ground facing downward. It is necessary to get the hose up under the bottom of the van and to this connection and then screw them together - along with the pressure regulator and the filter which is about a foot long. No way. I unhooked the hose and started all over again. I also realized that I needed to test the on-board fresh water tanks - one is filled through the side of the back doors and the other is filled inside the drivers door. The ten foot those would would not reach the other side of the back doors. I got out the 25 foot hose. I hooked that up with the filter and filled both tanks. We went inside, turned on the water pump and started the sink. There was some sputtering - and then Water! We flushed the toilet - water! So far so good! I turned off the water pump. We then connected the hose to the "city" water inlet. Things dripped a bit which I know is a no-no at campgrounds but no matter how much I tightened there was still some dripping. It would have to do in the dark. That afternoon we were told by the salesman that we turn the valve on the city water inlet to the side to connect the city water. I turned that valve as he told us too and turned on the campground faucet. I could hear water rushing - this could not be right. I looked around and at the rear of the Roadtrek water was coming down from the overfill of the water tank. Quickly we turned off the water. We decided to turn the valve on the city water inlet straight up. I turned on the water again - and no more gushing. We went inside and started the sink. Water flowed out of the faucet with more force than before. Perfect. Again, the toilet filled with water when we stepped on the flusher - half-way down to let in water, all the way down to open the door and flush!

For all the RVers reading this, this is all second nature to you all. For us this was a monumental first. We had electricity and we had water.

I then turned on the propane and we went in to test things inside. I had been told by good people on the internet forums that I should light the stove first to get the gas flowing in the line before I light the water heater or the furnace. Meryl got out the long lighter that we had been given by the salesman in his box of "gifts". I tried to light it first. I moved the lighter's safety switch to off, pressed the red button on top, and pushed that button forward while pulling the trigger. No flame came out the end. I tried it again and again. Nothing. OK, we had brought one from home that I knew worked. I turned on one of the burners, waited a second and clicked the lighter's flame on. The burner caught and a blue flame circled the middle. I tested the second burner and it worked as well. Great. We don't particularly like gas. We took it out of our house for all appliances and only use it at home for hot water. We both feel that it is not all that safe, but we also grew up with it when we were small children and do understand how to use it. I turned off the burner and moved on to the water heater. We took out the instruction booklet and followed what it said. There is a six gallon hot water tank and it takes a little time to heat up. We could hear the water heater ignite - this uses an electronic ignition. We waited a few minutes and I was pretty sure that I could feel hot water. I asked Meryl for an opinion - "cold" she said. We waited a little more and it was definitely hot. Another test with success.

What I have not mentioned in this article yet or in the article on delivery was that this day was the hottest day of the year to date - and the hottest night. It was over 80 during the day and the night would be in the mid-70's. Inside the Roadtrek there needs to be some source of air coming in or - at least to me - it gets hard to feel comfortable and breath easily. I turned on the air conditioner. It roared loudly. It has two settings - auto or fan and two speeds - high and low. Being blown hard, I moved the switch to low. But it is noisy inside even on low. I played with the thermostat and it turned on and off with the temperature, but I soon felt that it was better with it on all of the time that the on and off of the auto setting.

With the A/C running, it was time to test the furnace. I turned that on and very quickly heat started to come from the vent in the floor - good. We turned that off quickly - it was very warm still outside. I tried the heat pump that is part of the air conditioner. Warm air came out the vents - that worked too. All of the important systems were working. Next on to the luxuries.

We are big TV people. My wife cannot fall asleep unless the TV is on. The campground we were at did not have a hook up for cable TV - many do and the RT has a cable connection outside. We would have to rely upon the digital antenna that is
built into the RT with a booster. There were at least ten channels advertised for this campground so we should be fine. I turned on the TV - the salesman had it working that afternoon. I scanned for channels - and - nothing! The antenna rotates with a handle inside. We turned the direction of the antenna - scanned - nothing. We spent two hours turning and scanning. I changed settings, pushed cable connection buttons. Nothing. At one point we got a sports channel that was running infomercials - better than nothing but the picture froze almost immediately and then broke up to nothing. I was now very frustrated. I had brought along some DVD's so we put one in the "home entertainment center" and that played nicely. I was tired and I wanted to relax. I swiveled the front driver's seat to the back and sat down. I moved the backrest down a little and comfortably settled in. Meryl shortly joined me. Poured us both some soda and as it was getting late asked if we should have late night snack. We have something to eat each night to keep our blood sugar from dropping during the night. We are both Diabetics. She had brought pre-measured servings of oat cereal and we each took a bag.

Before eating I needed to test my blood sugar. Things had been so involved during the day that I had not done that two hours after lunch or dinner as I am supposed to. I got a drop of blood up on my finger and put my meter to it. A high for me number appeared. Stress causes blood sugar to rise. I certainly had been and still was under stress. I put the meter aside and decided that I would still eat snack and try to relax. Meryl's number was fine.

We sat and watched the movie on the DVD. She made an observation that it was after 1:30 am. I said that maybe we should go to bed and watch the movie there. She made the twin beds up and put on the sheets and blanket - which with the A/C running was necessary - but turn the A/C off and the air would get stuffy again.

I should say to you now that we are both "late night people". We usually go to bed around 4 am and get up mid-morning. Trying to go to bed now at 2 am for ME was a mistake. I was too high strung, not tired, and still nervous. And obviously, my blood sugar high reading was attesting to the stress - which pumps adrenalin into my system. I got ready for bed and I took my insulin.

The bed cushions are comfortable. They are a bit narrower than I thought they would be. We can always make the bed up into a king size bed instead of two small twins (cots?), but with this arrangement we both could get in and get out easily rather than climb down from the top of the bed to the bottom to get out. I tried closing my eyes to fall asleep. Nope. I watched the movie. When it ended we started it again which was easier than getting up and going for another DVD. I had taken the side of the van that was most like the position that I am in in our bed at home, but this also put me on the opposite side of my wife who was across the 18 inch aisle in the other bed. I kept trying to fall asleep. Something that I know from my professional training - and my advice to my therapy clients - one should not do. If you can't fall asleep, don't force it. Just lie with your eyes closed and you will get most of the benefits of actually sleeping. I kept telling myself this over and over again. Meryl was in and out of sleep and could see that I was not. She turned off the movie and the TV and the inside of the RT got dark. She said that maybe that would help. A few minutes later she told me that there was light coming out of the back of the van from under the bed - not outside, inside. She told me to look at the floor and sure enough, there was light coming through an access door to the back under the back of the bed. I told her I had no idea why that would be or where it would be coming from. No one had told me about any lights down there. She got on the floor and opened the access door which is very small. She said that there was a row of lights on in the back. Until it got totally dark we could not see them. She told me that she could see a switch off to the side but that she could not reach it. I told her that the only way to get to that was from the outside through the rear doors. We decided to leave the lights on. I then asked her how many switches she saw. Only one. Aha! Our salesman (I refrain from how I would like to describe him) had turned on a switch that afternoon to show me the "Generator Inverter switch". I asked him at the time what was that - as I had never heard of such a thing but after all I have never been near one of these up close before - and he told me that was standard. The fool had turned on these lights. There is no such thing as a Generator Inverter switch! Was he making it up as he went along? I am sure of that now.

Meryl was asleep. I was still not and it was approaching 4 am. I thought that this was good because now it was my usual bedtime and I would fall asleep. Silly me. I watched 5 am come and go. A little before 6 am I could see the sun coming up through the corners of the curtains. Now, I was really in a panic. We had to drive 200 miles to get home and I we had to deal with the problems we were finding at the dealer. I tried to just close my eyes and sleep and my head was overflowing with thoughts. A bit later with the sheet twisted around my legs and the temperature going from warm to cold and back again, my legs started to cramp and my foot curled up in a cramp. I could not control it - and this has not happened to me before and I was in a great amount of pain. I woke Meryl up for help. I am not sure how she figured out what to do but she put one of her pillows under my knees and the spasms and cramps stopped. I still could not fall asleep but I was not in pain.

It seemed to me that I never slept. Meryl says that at several points I was snoring so I must have been sleeping.

Next article - the second day...

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