Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Three Day Getaway...

Since we started shopping for the RV I have heard about the "Largest RV Show" in the U.S. that happens each year in Hershey, PA. This sounded so great but the irony of our situation was that to go to the show we had to have the RV that one would go to the show to look at and possibly purchase. So, in the two years of our RV shopping and deciding, the big, big RV show in Hershey would come and go.

When we got the Roadtrek, I decided that we would go to the next show in Hershey. I started planning this months ahead of time. When we returned from our summer trip I made the reservations at the campground to be sure that we would have a place to stay - as this show attracts RVers from across the country. When I made the reservations I was told that I was getting one of the last four spaces that the campground had for that week. But I had the reservations and we were going.

Of course, a couple of weeks before I realized that a meeting that I had to run was the night that we were leaving. I made arrangements for someone else to run the meeting and for the first time we missed a meeting. Well, after all it is the Hershey show... We were all set.

At the same time as the Hershey show there is also a Quilt Show near Philadelphia and this is a show that my wife and I have attended for years - there and back the same day. I planned this trip so that we would go to the quilt show on the day that we left home, stay that night at the campground and then go the next morning to the RV show. We would leave on Thursday and return home late Saturday after a day in Lancaster County. But you know about what happens to the best laid plans...

The days leading up to Thursday, a tropical storm had come up the coast and hit Pennsylvania very hard. Rivers rose and land flooded. Roads and highways were severely damaged. Hershey was one of the hardest hit areas. Parts of Lancaster were hit hard as well. Campgrounds in Hershey closed due to flooding. It looked like the Hershey show would be cancelled. Major roads leading to its location were flooded or damaged beyond quick repair. Eventually, the show announced that it would take place and gave alternate routes that had not been damaged to get to it.

Thursday was overcast and as we started out it looked like rain despite forecasts of drier weather. When we reached the quilt show it looked no better but the show was inside and the weather did not matter. The lot was crowded and the Roadtrek was not going to fit comfortably squeezed into one of the single spaces that we found as we drove through the parking lot. I drove around to the rear of the expo center to where several other RVs were parked and placed the Roadtrek in two spaces front to back. We walked around the large building to the entrance and enjoyed the show.

When we came out it still had not rained. We headed for one of the restaurants that we like to go to in the Lancaster area, had dinner and later went to the campground. We arrived at the campground late at night. We had told the campground (Old Mill Stream) that we were going to arrive after hours and there was no problem. Our space would be posted at the door. We arrived at the closed office and, as promised, there was the listing with our space number. It had rained at the campground that day. The ground that was not paved or gravel was muddy.

In my recent article about Old Mill Stream Campground I spoke about the "T" spaces. When I made the reservation, I was told that all that were left were "T" spaces and that was what I was assigned. I had a bit of apprehension, but when we arrived at the space we found that there was no one in the shared space and I was relieved to find that we would be able to get in and out with no problem at all. Knowing now where our space was, I drove out of the campground for one of our late night visits to Walmart to find a few things that we needed.

When we returned to the campground, I backed into the space only to discover that the hookups were on the opposite side. In the short time that we have been going to campgrounds, I thought that the hookups were always on the same side of the space - to the driver's side when backed in. The hookups on the "T" spaces alternate depending on what side of the row the space is on. In this space, it was necessary to pull head in so that the services were on the correct side. OK - I pulled out, turned around and pulled back in again. I got out and it seemed to me that the Roadtrek was leaning toward the driver's side. I pulled around the space looking for a spot that was level. I was not finding one but the van was not uncomfortably off so we left the "lego" blocks in the side compartment and just hooked up.

This was still mid-September but this night, it was getting cold. It had not been cold like this at home at night - at least not that we noticed. The temperatures were in the upper 40's to low 50's according to the local radio report. We decided that for the first time we would turn on the propane and use the hot water heater and the furnace.

To most, if not all RVers - other than us - using the propane is common. Both of us have never liked gas appliances (though we both grew up with them for a lot of our childhood). Up until that night the only time the propane had been on was the first night we owned the Roadtrek to make sure it worked. I turned on the propane at the back of the Roadtrek and went inside.

As we had been walking around in the mud outside while setting up we had tracked mud and rain into the Roadtrek. We got the inside set up for the night and I turned on the hot water heater and the furnace. The furnace works as it should but I had no real idea how to make sure that it was doing what it is supposed to do. The fan came on with no heat. Then it seemed like it was coming on but it wasn't. Nervous that there was something wrong, I decided to turn off the furnace and run the heat pump in the air conditioning unit instead. Trying to turn off the furnace the fan would not go off and until it did we had a bit of a nerve wracking time. Finally, the furnace was off. The hot water heater was on and nice hot water was coming out of the sink faucet. Still the floor was covered in mud, so I settled down in one of the front seats while Meryl cleaned the floor.

The floor was clean and dry. The TV was tuned to the cable channels from the RV park and we were ready to just finally relax. Or so I thought. I happened to look down at the bottom of my sneaker. There was water on it. It had been dry. "Where did this water come from?" I asked out loud. Meryl said that it must have come from outside but I knew that I had wiped off my shoes once the floor was cleaned. Then she noticed the water on the floor. "Didn't you just mop up all of the water that we tracked in here?" She had. Oh boy...

There was a puddle of water on the floor outside the bathroom door. We opened the door and more water poured out. There was water on the base that the toilet sits on. I opened the small cabinet below that and there was water inside there as well. It appeared that water had seeped out from under the bottom of the toilet and moved forward (in the direction that the RV was not level) and poured down below. We got paper towels and started to mop up.

My first thought was that the hot water had done something or made the heat that was on for the first time. We shut down the hot water heater and then shut down the water pump. The water seeping from the toilet slowed and then stopped. I sat on the floor in front of the toilet with paper towels drying up all of the water. My tension was increasing and I was angry. This was not shown in the sales brochure or the promotional video. So much for my trip to Hershey in the morning - and what were we going to do about water and a toilet? Just to see what would happen I had Meryl turn the water pump back on and the water started to seep out again from the toilet's edge at the base. "Turn it off!" and that was that. No water and no toilet. We would call first thing in the morning, the dealer service who is an hour and a half back east, and make sure we were seen and this was repaired.

It turned out that the space we were in was in a good location as one of the bathhouses was just diagonally across from us. We could wash and use the toilet until we went to bed. We made a few cold trips out that night. Inside, we took water that we had brought with us in the refrigerator and kept it out to warm up so that we would have water to wash with inside the RV.

There are nights that you just don't have to "go", but when you know you can't, eventually you are going to have to. I did not know what was wrong with the toilet. I did not know where the leak was originating. Waste water or incoming water? We decided that if during the night or when we got up in the morning, we had to go, we were not going outside, we would just go and hope for the best.

We spent an unrelaxed night and called the service center at 8:30 the next morning. They did not open until 9. At 9 they told us that they were booked solid for the day, but that we should come as soon as possible and they would fit us in. I had to stop at the campground office before we pulled out to pay for our stay. I paid for the two days hoping that we would be back that night with water and a working toilet.

We spent the entire Friday at the service center - walking around their shop and then over to the small shopping center down the road. We were there for five hours and the Roadtrek was not finished until 4 pm. They had removed the toilet, found a leak in the intake valve, replaced the toilet valve and reseated the toilet. Leak repaired. So much for the RV show that day.

We headed back to the Lancaster. It was really to late in the day to do anything, but Green Dragon Farmer's Market is open late. We went there to spend what was left of the rest of the day. There had been severe flooding at the market and there were signs of how high the water and the mud had risen. It was sad to see but business carried on as usual for most - though some just closed up without intention of opening up again due to the damage.

We decided that night that we would go to the Hershey show the next day - the day that we were heading home. When we got back to the campground, we leveled the Roadtrek with the "lego" blocks - just in case. I asked at the campground the next morning if there were any spaces open for the night - but no, they were booked. We headed out Saturday morning, after a nice dry night inside the Roadtrek with running water and a working toilet, for Hershey. We would drive home that night. Not ideal as Hershey is further west, but I was determined to get to that show.

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