Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fort Frederick, Big Pool, Maryland

The purpose of our trip to Maryland was to attend an 18th Century Market Fair. This is an event where vendors of clothing, supplies, accessories, flintlock guns, and more gather in tents to sell to living history reenactors and anyone interested in colonial history. The Market Fair takes place annually on the last weekend in April from Thursday through Sunday and it takes place at Fort Frederick - a Maryland state park that features an original, though restored, military stone fort built in 1756 to protect the area from Indians (sorry, Native Americans) and the fort played an important role in the French and Indian War, was a prison for British soldiers during the Revolutionary War, and was an outpost for Union troops to guard the C & O canal. The fort has seen a lot of history and the fort stands today as it was during the French and Indian War complete, restored, and furnished.

The Market Fair juries the participants who are selling and also camping in period correct 18th Century camps. Only the top vendors are permitted to sell and they must prove documentation for the items that they are selling showing that they are period correct to the time period that this market represents. As a result this market fair draws vendors and visitors from all over the United States. It is considered one of the largest such market fairs in the United States. Fort Frederick is located in Big Pool, Maryland which is northeast of Hagerstown, where we stayed at the campground. It would have been possible as reenactors to camp on the site in period tents or in our Roadtrek but while the park does have RV camp sites during season, there are no hook ups, no dump station, and only water available. Other visitors would not be permitted to camp on site during the Market Fair, but if you come during the summer months when there is not an event taking place at Fort Frederick you can RV or tent camp there (again, no hookups).

Many visitors who are reenactors come dressed in their period clothing and go around the market fair shopping and visiting. Colonial clothing is not required for visitors as you can see in the photo above, but it makes the fair just so much more fun. Renenactors are always looking for a place to "play" and this makes for a very nice "playground". At the market fair there is 18th Century entertainment - musicians and an 18th Century magician. There is also food sold by two local civic groups - and the pork barbecue was just wonderful!

We went for two days - Friday and Saturday. We went, of course, in our reproduction colonial clothing - most of which Meryl has made for the two of us over the years that we have been in the "hobby". (We both belong to an 18th Century Revolutionary War unit.)

It is a large site and there are many, many vendors. We saw only part of the vendors on Friday. We came back Saturday to see the rest and revisit with some that had things that caught our eye. We also visited the actual fort on Saturday, which has been further furnished in its buildings since we had been here last about three years ago - pre-Roadtrek. If you are a renenactor it is possible to spend a lot of money here. We restrained ourselves and made just a few purchases, but of course, you see this and that of things that you will not see anywhere else, and somethings you just cannot resist. Meryl has become very knowledgeable in 18th Century embroidery and samplers. (I would go so far as to say that she has become an expert - and she has been published in a national embroidery magazine with an article that she wrote on Jacobean embroidery.) She demonstrates this at living history events. So, when she saw books that she does not already have in her library on samplers and period embroidery, they were not to be passed up. I found a few things to amuse myself as well. Some of those who sell are craftspeople who make the reproductions that they sell and this includes furniture, clothing, leatherwork, firearms, knives, ironwork, and horn work. The craftsmanship is of the highest quality. And if you see something that you cannot afford that is handmade, if you keep looking from tent to tent you are likely to find a less expensive, similar reproduction of lesser quality but just as utilitarian. As a renenactor you put all of this to actual use. Nothing is just a prop. You carry a flintlock - you use the flintlock. You carry a knife or tomahawk, you use the knife or tomahawk. When you shop at an event like this you are looking for things that will hold up to day to day use - and they have to be authentic and documented in their reproduction.

Needless to say, we had fun! If anyone is interested in history, they will have a good time here too. Admission for the day is just five dollars. Parking is in a large, open grass field. I had some apprehension about driving the Roadtrek with its low ground clearance onto this field as I know from the past that there are dips in the ground - and if it has been raining - it can get very muddy. The brief rain did not bring any mud. There was a forecast for showers on Saturday but they did not come - happily. There had been brief rain a few days before the event. People who attend this event regularly will tell you that there are three things that you can count on when you go to the Fort Frederick Market Fair - it will be cold, it will be very hot, and it will rain. This year, there really was no significant rain - though the forecasts kept predicting it. There was cold - in fact it got very cold - and if you are in a tent on the site - you know just how that cold can feel (as opposed to inside the Roadtrek with the heat pump or furnace going. On Sunday after we left temperatures here dropped down into the 30's during the day. What the weather did not do was get hot. It has gone from freezing in the mornings here to 90 in the afternoon. The lack of heat was actually a very pleasant change as we were able to walk around comfortably.

If you go to Fort Frederick at any time that it is open you will be able to tour the fort. The fort consists of stone walls that enclose the fort with points at each corner for artillery. What you see here is the path leading to the entrance of the fort.

Here you see the entrance to the fort from the inside. You can see one of the large wood doors that secured the fort.

A view of the fort barracks and the stone walls. This is the enlisted men's building.

The three photos that follow are enlisted men's quarters. Note, the red uniforms. This is a British Colonial fort in the French and Indian War. At this time we all wore red uniforms and would have been fighting alongside the British against the French and the Indians.

During the Market Fair, there is a French and Indian War renenacting unit occupying the fort and living overnight in these rooms.

On the opposite side of the parade ground is another building - built to mirror the one above. In the 18th Century architecture is all about symmetry. The top floor of this building is a museum that tells the story of the fort from when it was built through its restoration.

The photos that follow show Officer's quarters, work areas, and storage rooms.

As you can see, even when the Market Fair is not taking place, Fort Frederick is a great historic site to visit and a unique opportunity to see a fully restored fort of the French and Indian War era.

This is a link to the historic site of Fort Frederick. Here is a link to the Fort Frederick Market Fair.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Camp-Resort, Hagerstown, Maryland

The Yogi Bear Campground is listed as the Hagerstown Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Campground is listed as being in Hagerstown, Maryland but it is actually located in Williamsport, Maryland which is southwest from the city of Hagerstown. We stayed here for three days and two nights on our recent trip to Maryland.

There are two campgrounds in this area to choose from. One is this Yogi Bear campground and the other is a KOA campground. I did some research and made some inquiries about the two campgrounds. I decided upon the Yogi Bear because reviews of the KOA kept mentioning the narrow entrance road that road along the edge of a river with several cautions about going off the side. The reviews of Yogi were mixed, but decided that as we would be coming back from our day activities late at night, I wanted to be sure of the road that I would have to take coming into the campground in the dark.

The purpose of this trip was to attend a colonial market fair held at Fort Frederick historic park in Big Pool, Maryland which is located northwest of Hagerstown. I may not have mentioned this before in my articles but Meryl and I are Revolutionary War living history reenactors. The event at Fort Frederick is one that many reenactors attend in 18th Century clothing and this is how we would be attending. One of the things that I have always heard about Yogi Bear Campgrounds is that they require all who stay to wear wristbands showing that they are registered - and from what I could learn about this particular campground, they are very strict about enforcing this rule. There was no way that we could attend this event with adhesive wristbands on our wrists. When we made the reservation, we explained this and we were told that arrangements would be made so that we would not have to wear the wristbands but we must have them with us at all times when we were on the property. Fine.

Finding this campground is a bit tricky when routing by GPS. The address that is given to route to this campground brings you to the correct location, but the GPS was determined to route you there in such a way that it involved a road that did not exist. It was necessary to find the road with the actual entrance and mark a waypoint on the route to get you to that point on roads that do exist.

I decided that it would be best to arrive at this campground for the first time during daylight and we left Pennsylvania for the two hour and fifteen minute ride so that we would come in to the campground around 4 pm. My tweak of the GPS route got us to the entrance. The entrance is very hard to see as it is tucked back from the road in the woods. There is a sign but the sign is also offset from the road and it comes up very quickly at a point at which there appears to be nothing there. Once into the drive and though the trees on a narrow one way entrance road (there is another exit road parallel), you are greeted by a large Yogi Bear, much like the photo above. (The photo is of the Yogi at entrance of their miniature golf course.) You then proceed down a long poorly paved road that is full of potholes. Avoiding these potholes is not easy - and there are some that you cannot avoid. As you continue weaving around the potholes you come to a building which houses their registration office. There is a sign to park along the side of the road and as we arrived there was a large Class A with a car towed behind it in front of us. If we parked behind it we would block the entrance so we waited awhile until the Class A driver came out and moved their RV. Time went on when we decided to just leave the Roadtrek on the side behind the Class A and go inside.

Registration was easy. The people behind the desk were very nice and welcoming. Next to us was the Class A driver and she was there without reservations and they were finding a site for her. We were told what our space was, given a packet of materials explaining the campground, and also were told about the special event that was taking place on Friday and Saturday - Mardi Gras Weekend. We would be there Friday. We had no intention of going to the Mardi Gras activities as we had our own plans for the day and night. Then we were handed our armbands. We explained what we had explained when we made the reservations and were told that this would be no problem as long as we had them with us. We were also given a sign to put on our windshield while we were in the campground. The reservations were paid for in advance in full - which was the only way they would make the reservation.

You don't just drive to your space here - you are escorted by a "ranger". We were met outside by a "ranger" driving a golf cart and he told us to follow him. When we made the reservation we were told that the standard RV site and the premium RV site would be the same price and we were given the "premium" site. We followed the "ranger" down a narrow dirt/gravel/paved road - again full of potholes. We came out of the woods into an open area with large RV sites - much larger than the Roadtrek. This was where our site was to be. But the "ranger" stopped and we could see him talking into his walkie-talkie. Something was obviously wrong. We waited a few minutes and then got out to find out what was going on. It seems that a large trailer was in the space that we were assigned. Suddenly, the Class A that had been in front of us came up behind on the road we were on with a "ranger" in a golf cart leading her. Our "ranger" told us we had to pull to the side of the road and he did the same. He directed us into a cut in the side of the road. The Class A pulled into the site that was next to the one that we were supposed to be in. Apparently, the trailer was not scheduled to be there that day and was supposed to have left that morning. Obviously, it did not. Our luck. There was a lot of chatter with the main office over the walkie-talkie and the manager was to be coming to decide where to put us. There appeared to be a lot of open spaces right there, but this was Thursday and perhaps there would be a big crowd arriving Friday for "Mardi Gras". OK. We were told to turn around and follow the "ranger".

I wish it was just that easy. The cut that we were directed into posed no problem for a golf cart as he could just swing right out and move in the direction from which we had come. The Roadtrek had no room to go forward and turn around. A u-turn was required. I pulled out, pulled forward, and then started pulling back to back into that same cut so that I could turn in the direction that we now needed to go in. Surrounding this cut were trees and boulder sized rocks along the edges and sides. As I backed up with the limited visibility of the Roadtrek to the rear and the angle of the backup camera, it appeared that I was clear until I heard the thud of what had to be my hitting one of the boulders. My heart sank and I had some unpleasant thoughts about Yogi Bear. There was nothing that I could do at that point - and we had to follow the "ranger" to our new site. We drove back along the road that we had come down on and back into the woods. We followed the "ranger" to sites that were surrounded by trees - and large rocks. This was not at all like the "premier" area that was wide open. This was literally in the woods. We were directed into a short pull through site. There were trailers all around us in the sites that were occupied. It took a sharp turn to avoid a large rock to get into the space. Once in the space I moved the RV around to see how level the space would be and did find a spot that was just about level in both directions - I did not find that spot again no matter how hard I tried for the rest of the stay.

The "ranger" checked that the water faucet was working. It was. The "ranger", who by the way was very nice, waved goodbye and was off. I looked at the back of the Roadtrek to see what damage I had done when I hit the rock. I could not see anything on the bumper and I suspect that I hit the van exhaust pipe. I hope that was it because there are a lot of things that hang down under the Roadtrek and if I had hit the generator I would have ruined it. The first thing that we do when we arrive at a campsite is check the electric service at the power post. This was the most unusual power post that we have come to so far and probably is not uncommon. This was a 30 amp site - no more "premium" site - on the map this was marked "standard". There was a 30 amp outlet and a 20 amp outlet. There were no circuit breakers - so far at each campground that we have been to there have been circuit breakers. It appeared that there were fuses. It did not look like Yogi had updated the power posts in some time. The box was also close to the ground and we could see that our power protector when plugged in first would be on the ground - which should not be a problem though there was a forecast for rain - when we eventually actually hooked up the power we set the Surge Guard on one of the large rocks that was in front of the electric box. The power tested correctly and that is what is important.

We decided that since it was just barely 5 pm we would take in the sites of Jellystone Park. The Yogi Bear campgrounds present themselves as resorts - and charge extra for this in the way of a required $4 per person fee per day in addition to the site fee. As we were really here off season, and we were leaving on Saturday - the start of the weekend - we did not have to pay this fee. During the summer and "in season", the fee is applied every day. We were curious to see what it was we could have been paying for. Of course, the theme is Yogi Bear and everything is geared toward that theme and to families with children. There is a large water slide, pictured here. This slide goes into the swimming pool which, by the way, at the end of April while we were here is closed. The swimming pool was large and looked to be very nice when it is open. Walking down the road to get to the slide and swimming pole we passed Yogi's miniature golf course, a playground, and an outdoor movie theater.

As we walked through the campground we were passed by "rangers" in golf carts. Each would wave and say hello as they went by. Again, the staff was very nice here. We saw a sign for "Cindy Bear's Go Carts". We followed the sign into another area of the campground and did not find the go cart track - it is on the map. As we were heading back, we passed this little mining town building with a slouse gate and a place to pan for "real" gold. This was not open but there was a sign that there is a charge to pan for gold. Everything else that we saw including a building with laser tag seemed to be included with the stay.

As we were walking back to our site, we decided to see if there was access to the road in front of our site so that we could come around the next time we came in and back in, avoiding the rocks and trees. We followed one road and then another and did find that the roads looped around - be it through trees and more boulders but they did come around and would lead to the front of our site. What we did not notice at the time was the lack of any road lighting along any of the roads.

This photo is just an example of the terrain that makes up this campground.

Actually this is mild compared to what some of the terrain and roads are like here. Yes, it is Jellystone Park, home of Yogi Bear and bears live in the woods. I did not imagine that the theme was taken so literally. During the day, it is not much of a problem. You can see the holes in the road. You can see the mud. You can see the large rocks. You can see the trees. Come back at night and the campground is pitch black. The only lights come from a few cabins scattered through the campground areas and whatever lights are coming from RVs and trailers. You can no longer see the road. You can no longer see the rocks. You can no longer see the trees - until you are too close.

Coming back to the campground that night we missed the entrance to the campground off the road. As I said, it is set back and guess what - no lighting. So we drove about a mile down the road until we came to a cross road and luckily, it was possible to make a u-turn, as there were no cars coming down that road. This is not a deserted area. There are houses scattered along.

We got back to the entrance and drove very slowly until we found it and pulled into the dark entrance road and realized just how much of an obstacle course getting in and out of here on these poorly paved, potholed roads is. And to make it worse - no lights other than your headlights. We had scouted out this other way to get to our site and decided that we would try it. We thought we knew how to go. We headed down the road that we were sure it was and it got even darker and we were surrounded by trees. I had Meryl get out with the walkie-talkie to walk on front and guide me through. We crawled along and came to what appeared to be a road climbing a hill into darkness. No way was I going down that road. I gingerly backed up to another road that we had just passed that appeared just to go into the darkness of the woods. I do not know how large Class A's or trailers come through these roads. I looked at the turn I had to make between two very large trees and several boulders and I was certain that there was no way I could get through without scraping up the side of the Roadtrek against one of these trees. I had a very agitated discussion with Meryl about getting me through this small turn and she guided me in. We pulled down that road and could see that we would connect to the road that led into our campsite. We got there and backed in.

It was easier to get into the space this way, but it put us in a position on the gravel on the site that we were at a different angle than we had been in that afternoon. I backed up and to the side and forward again looking for an almost level spot. I knew there was one here somewhere. I could not find it. I settled for a spot that was close to level but actually off to the front. I would rather have my head up in bed than my feet. Side to side was a compromise as well. With the precarious ride to get to the site and the time it took to get level enough to be comfortable, it was getting late - and we had a big day ahead of us on Friday. We got out and hooked up, went back inside and settled in.

Wifi service was fair but adequate. Cable television was very good. There was a large number of good cable channels and many came in in both HD digital and analog. We have yet to be in a campground other than this one where the cable signal is digital and this is because of the conversion of cable companies and satellite to digital and the campground converts the signal back to analog to avoid needing a special box to tune in the channels, like the set top box you have at home from the cable company. Without the conversion by the campground every RV would need a box specific to that provider company.

While we had been walking around that afternoon we checked out the restrooms and shower facilities. They were all clean but were dated. There did not look like there had been any change in them since they were put up, though the men's room did have waterless urinals which is a recent thing.

The next morning we dressed in our colonial clothes, got outside at the site and unhooked the cable and the electricity. We must have looked like we were ready for the Mardi Gras and we attracted the looks a several campers and children. We headed off for Fort Frederick.

When we returned that night we took the easy way to the back of the space and pulled through just being careful of the trees and the rocks. We got into the space and went through the dance of finding a not level but suitable place to stop. The next morning again, we dressed in our colonial clothes, got out to unhook, got more stares and got back in and left Yogi Bear Campground heading once again to Fort Frederick, from which we would leave that evening to head back to Pennsylvania.

Now, will we come back to Yogi Bear next year when we return to this same annual event at Fort Frederick. At this point, I will say probably. The rate was reasonable. The location for where we needed to go was fine. I did not like the condition of the roads in the campground - for a so-called resort with extra fees, things should be in much, much better repair. The entire campground of roads needs re-paving and the road in and the road out is treacherous and terrible. It would be easy to miss avoiding a large hole - and there were some very large holes and do a lot of damage to your axle or your under-carriage. I suppose people like feeling that they are in the woods. I would rather this be not quite so woodsy and that there were at least a few street lamps on the roads in the campground. Anyone walking at night takes their life into their hands. There was also a problem with campers' dogs not on leashes. We saw several and encountered one pooch that ran off from its owner who was at the side of their trailer and decided to chase us. I have little problem with dogs - as long as they are small - but Meryl is frightened of dogs and always has been. This one was yapping and snapping at our legs. The owner called the dog - lots of luck if this dog cared. He eventually came over and got him - too late though for Meryl who was trying hard to just get away from there. There is supposed to be a rule here to keep pets on a leash but this was not enforced.

I am not sure where else I would stay in this area. We did not have an opportunity to see the KOA campground though we did see a sign on the Interstate for the exit to take to get to it. Aware of what I am now aware of and what to look out for when coming into the campground at night, I would likely come back.

Not far from this campground is Antietam Battlefield of the Civil War (also called Sharpsburg depending upon which side you are from North or South). It is an excellent place to visit and I have been there many times in the past before our Roadtrek days. We will likely go back again. This is also a good location to visit Harper's Ferry National Park in West Virginia which is very close by. So there may be reason for you to be visiting this area - other than Fort Frederick which is a musuem and has a real 18th Century military fort to tour besides the events that take place there. If you decide to visit here, and come to stay with Yogi, you have the whole story now. There is a Walmart in Hagerstown and a Pilot Truck Stop that both allow overnight parking of RVs if you would like to stay without a hookup.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Off on Our First Trip of the Season

I always have a little apprehension before taking a trip - even before the Roadtrek, but with the Roadtrek I start wondering before a trip what will go wrong on this one. Last season we encountered some of the strangest weather - a snow storm in October, a hurricane, and an earthquake all on trips in our Roadtrek. Of course, the Roadtrek had nothing to do with the weather, but you do feel a little more vulnerable out in an RV when the weather starts to go bad than you do in a hotel room. Well, anyway, we planned a trip to Maryland at the end of April to attend a living history event at Fort Frederick in the town of Big Pool, Maryland. There will be an article all about the event in the near future.

When we ended our last trip of the season in 2011, we had a problem - or perhaps I should say - the nonoccurrence of a problem with our grey water tank valve. The grey water tank is the tank that holds sink and shower drain water. This is different from the black water tank which is the tank that holds waste and water from the toilet. The problem with the valve was that the pull handle that works the valve would not push in to close the valve. This resulted in the grey water mixing in with the black water when the black water tank was dumped. This is not a good thing and it had been fixed last Fall for the same problem at dealer/service. Not a month after the repaid the same problem reoccurred. I contacted them back at that time and we agreed that in the Spring we would be back to have this fixed - and this time I would like a new valve installed. There were no promises about a new valve, but they would repair the problem. Planning this trip in April, we would make a first day stop in Pennsylvania to take the Roadtrek to dealer service. While it was there, we would have them change the oil in the generator which needs to be changed after the first twenty hours of use. We would be heading after that to Maryland but decided that as we did not know how late it would be in the day before the Roadtrek would be ready - and if there was any problem that we needed to come back the next day - we better stay that night in Pennsylvania. We made a one night reservation at Old Mill Stream Campground in Lancaster, PA. From there we would be going to Hagerstown, Maryland to the Yogi Bear Campground. Reservations were made weeks before, even though it is early in the season. We would stay two nights in Maryland and come back to Lancaster on the way home rather than drive through - which we could have done, but we were in no hurry.

Traffic, of course, is impossible and we were delayed getting off Long Island, in New Jersey and in Pennsylvania. We arrived at dealer service in a little over three hours. They took the Roadtrek right in for service and we spent the next two and and a half hours walking around the small shopping center that is about a quarter mile away. When we got back to pick it up, we were told that the valve did not need replacing but that the long metal wire that attaches to the handle on one side and works the valve on the other needed to be shortened, stopped from slipping, and tightened down. I have to share that I have my doubts that this will be the last of the problem.

We then headed off to Lancaster. We stopped for dinner along the way, and eventually arrived and settled in at the campground. The space that we were assigned was told to us on a note left on the campground office mailbox. It was not a space that we have been in or near before and we followed the campground map to find the space. We got to where the space should be and Meryl got out to locate it, while I remained in the lane for directions as to where to back in. She came back perplexed saying that she could not find the space. I looked at the map and was pretty sure that we were sitting right in front of the space. At this campground the space numbers are marked on the electric hookup posts. I got out and walked over to what should be the space. There was the number on the back of the post. We pulled in and within a relatively short time found a spot on the gravel that was almost level. That was it for the night. We got out, hooked up the electric power cord and cable connection, and we were set for the night. We had filled our two fresh water tanks before we left so we had no need to connect to water.

One of the things that I got to play with on this trip is a new toy - a small Android tablet that has a five inch screen. It connects right up to the wifi signal at the campground and I can surf the web, read email, write articles, and so on. It worked great, though I did discover that writing anything of substance on a little screen keyboard is not ideal. The solution to that is a bluetooth keyboard that will connect wirelessly to the tablet and I quickly decided that one would be purchased when we got home.

Sleeping in the Roadtrek has become very comfortable. We got a good nights sleep. We slept late since we would only be traveling that day to Maryland. We stopped in Pennsylvania in a few of the places that we like to waste time at and we were off to Maryland. (If I detail those places, I will be telling you about these same places over and over again. If you look back at July 2011, you will see some of the places we went back to on this short trip.)

I wanted to arrive in Maryland in the daylight. We have been to Hagerstown many times in the past but never in an RV and never camping. The campground is actually located in Williamsport which is just outside of Hagerstown and is off on country roads. Even the GPS was having trouble locating the actual entrance and the route to get to it. The trip from Lancaster is about two hours and fifteen minutes. We arrived about 4:00 pm. I will write all about this Yogi Bear Campground in another article. Let's just say it was an experience!

The week before we left on this trip the weather had been wonderful. The temperatures were in the 70's! The second night in Maryland I started my little Android tablet, connected to the campground wifi, and got a weather alert on the screen for our location. There was a freeze warning over night. Temperatures would drop during the night to sub-freezing temperatures! How exciting! We had the heat pump on during the night and while it only works to about 40 degrees F, it kept us warm through the night. It did not start blowing cold - as it will when the temperature drops below 40 - so the actual temperatures where we were must have remained at around 40. All along the weather reports for that next day were that it would be "warmer". It was not.

I am going to skip over all of what we did in Maryland and bring us all back to Lancaster for the return trip heading home. Again, Maryland will be in two coming articles. We left Maryland on the late afternoon of Saturday, April 28th. We stopped for dinner along the way and did not arrive back in Lancaster until late Saturday night. Again, our space number was left for us in the mailbox of the office. This time it was easy to find the space, but once in the space I could not find a spot to get the Roadtrek level.

For us, being level on the site is only for comfort. For others whose RVs have propane refrigerators being level is very important. These refrigerators must be level to work properly. Almost all campgrounds claim to have level sites. We have wondered if what is level on a gravel site for a large bus size RV can also be level for our little Roadtrek. We have, so far, only been in one campground where the site was truly right on level - and that site was concrete pavement. On gravel sites, we get close, on a rare occasion get actually level, or don't even come near level. A big RV has levelers - mechanical legs that come down and adjust back to front, side to side until the RV is level. The Roadtrek is much too small and very much to close to the ground on the bottom to have any such device under the chassis. To level a Roadtrek you use large, square plastic blocks that look like giant "Lego" blocks. You put them against the front of back of the tires and drive up on them. We carry a set with us. We have used them once when we really could not get level at all. On this night, I was beginning to think that we were going to need to do this again.

What you do is drive around the space with the Roadtrek until you find a level spot. I have two bubble levels mounted inside the front of the Roadtrek - one on the dash and one on a straight part of the door. The dash shows level side to side. The door shows level front to back. I could just not find a spot and to get both level and in some spots both were way off. I drove all around that space - tried putting the Roadtrek diagonally in the space. Getting out I could see the slopes. I was getting angrier and more and more frustrated, but I was not going to give in. There had to be - or did there - a spot that was at least almost level. I got the front to back level and then keeping in that general spot moved a bit here and there to find an almost side to side level position. I gave up with the bubble just touching the level line. By then we were too tired to even bother pulling out the Lego blocks. Don't ask why we just did not pull them out to begin with. I announced an exasperated, "Good enough!", and shut off the engine. We went out to hook up and before we went in, Meryl asked if I wanted to turn on the propane. I asked her why as we don't usually turn on the propane - which has to be turned on from the outside. She said "in case there is another freeze warning". There is one thing that Meryl will tell you - Meryl is always right. I told her no, it would not be necessary to turn on the propane since the night before we were fine just with the heat pump.

Meryl is always right. There was another weather alert on the tablet - this one for Lancaster. It said over night freeze warning with temperatures dropping to sub-freezing temperatures possibly into the 20's. We went to sleep with the heat pump on. The heat pump by the way is a setting on the air conditioner. At about 6:00 am I was awakened by cold air blowing on my face. There are two directional vents for the air conditioner/heat pump that direct down onto the bed. My was pointing at my face. I reached up to feel the air blowing from the vent and it was COLD. This means that the temperature dropped below 40 degrees and with that the heat pump stops working - but it does not just shut down - that would make too much sense. No, it blows cold instead of hot. I reached over to the control panel - which is on the wall in the bed area and shut the unit off. I had the Android tablet at my side set as an alarm clock. I looked at the local weather reading - 34 degrees at the present time. I considered getting dressed and going outside to turn on the propane so that I could turn on the furnace inside and get warm, but decided that I would rather wrap up under the blanket and be a little cold than face the outside cold temperature. Yep, I should have listened to Meryl and turned on the propane last night!

Were the outside temperature the only thing that was unexpected, it would have been overall a great trip. As it was it was a very nice trip, but as has happened on so many other trips, there was a problem in the Roadtrek. This one, is not likely the fault of Roadtrek, but more likely has to do with the winterizing kit that I described was installed in the Roadtrek last November when we had the RV winterized. After flushing the toilet we could hear a hum in side the van. We were not sure where it was coming from but it was unlike any of the usual noises that one hears inside Roadtreks. We traced the sound to the cabinet where the water pump is located. This is where that winterizing kit was installed. I sounded like the water pump was running and it was not stopping - but it was a low hum and not the usual rumble that the water pump makes. I turned on the faucet to find little water coming out and then a burst of air and then more water, and more air and then water mixed with air. The water pump was sucking air. Where this air is coming from still remains to be determined and we are going back to the dealer service center sometime soon for this to be looked at and repaired. Basically, the pump is not priming because it is filling with air and not water - and there is more air than water. I won't go into further details. We shall wait to see what it is when it is repaired. Another unexpected trip to Pennsylvania is in our near future.

The morning that we were leaving the campground and would head home that night, we dumped the waste tanks at the campground. This should not have taken long but to dump partially full tanks you need to fill them up with water and this can take some time. All and all, with refilling one of the fresh water tanks so that we would have water on board for the trip home - just in case - it took about an hour and a half. With that all done, we left the campground to spend Sunday in Lancaster.

Sunday in Lancaster is not the best day to be in Lancaster. The Amish are a very religious community and there are a number of local businesses and restaurants that are closed on Sundays. There are a lot of places to shop and several outlet centers. There is also the farmlands to drive through. A Sunday for the Amish is either a "church" Sunday or a "visiting" Sunday. Either way the back roads in Lancaster are filled with buggies. We seemed to encounter them on the road always at almost the top of a hill or just before a blind turn. When driving in Lancaster and you come upon a buggy, always wait until the opposite lane of traffic is completely clear for some distance ahead - especially in a Roadtrek - and then pull into the opposite lane and pass the buggy. I have had long experience doing this with a car. It is a whole other thing with a Roadtrek where you are as wide as the lane.

Well, again, this trip proved to be one of our trips that something went wrong - the water pump. Sorry this article rambles a bit but the trip rambled and you get that experience reading this article. The coming articles about Fort Frederick 18th Century Market Fair and Hagerstown Yogi Bear Campground will be a bit more exciting - I hope.

Old Mill Stream Campground, mid-week at the end of April

Cows in the field on the farm across the stream at Mill Stream Campground. There was a bull and a cow "humping" but they did not wait for me to get the camera out to pose.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Living in the Roadtrek - Hooking Up

Camping season is starting and I thought that I would give you some of the basics of hooking up a Roadtrek when you get to a campground. Pictured below is a typical campground site. This one is a site at Old Mill Stream Campground in Lancaster, PA. Here sites are gravel. There is a post with the 110 volt electric connections and the cable television connection. Next to that post is a pipe coming up from the ground with a fresh water spigot to connect your fresh water hose.

When you reserve a campsite what is included on that site depends upon what the campground offers and how complete a site you want. Not all campgrounds have cable television connections. Those that do may not have cable at all sites. Not all campgrounds have a sewer connection at every site. Those that don't generally have a central dump station. A basic site includes water and electricity. A full hook up site includes water, electric, and sewer. The cable television connection varies from campground to campground and may or may not be included at every site and may or may not be charged additionally for. What you pay for a site depends upon what you want at that site. If there is sewer connection at your site, there will be a closed pipe connection as shown below. You unscrew the cap, and dump into the hole. There will be a future article about dumping your tanks.

The Roadtrek has a 30 amp electric system. This means that a maximum of 3o amps of 110 volt power can be put into the Roadtrek. There is a thick electric cord with a 30 amp plug on the end. This is stored in the middle outside storage compartment, and comes out through an opening in the end of the storage compartment wall that comes out to a smaller, rear compartment that is open to the ground. You can see the storage compartments in this photo.

Below, you see the plug of the electric cord stored in the plastic liner of the opening between the two compartments.

This liner is designed to closee around the cord to prevent anything from coming into the inside of your storage compartment - like water, bugs, mice... This little hole has been dubbed the "mouse hole" by Roadtrek owners and it is often difficult to move the cord through that hole whether going in or out. You can see the other side of the mouse hole in the photo to the right. There is a cover that snaps into place when the cord is put away. When pulling the cord out, you flip this door up. When we first started we could not understand why the cord was not moving through until we got down and looked at what we thought should be the opening and discovered that there is a door there. You can also see in this photo where the water hose connects to the Roadtrek from the campground fresh water spigot. The water valve handle that you see there is part of the outdoor shower.

So, after you pull into your campground site, you are going to connect your 11o volt electricity first. You open the two compartment doors that you saw in the photo above, and pull out enough electric cord to reach the electric box at the campground site. You want to pull into the site so that the box is on the side of your electric cord. There is about 30 feet of cord. You can purchase an extension cord - specifically for 30 amp RVs that can extend this length if you need to. You should not need this at a campground. Ready to connect?


The electric boxes at campgrounds do not always work as they should. There may be a problem in the wiring or insufficient or too much voltage coming through the outlet. Any of this may seriously damage your RVs electric system if you plug into it. So what do you do? You test it before connecting. What you will need is a polarity tester which is found in most electric departments of big box stores and stores like Walmart. This is just a regular plug with led lights on it. If the LEDs light up in the correct pattern - which is shown right on the plug, you are good - and this means that the ground and the wires have been wired to the outlet correctly. To do this you will also need a 15 amp to 30 amp adapter. This test plug is a 15 amp house plug. The outlet that you want to test is a 30 amp outlet. The plug on a 30 amp outlet is much different and looks very much like the large plug that is on your household dryer. (Do not mistake these for the same plug - the one on your dryer is for a 220 volt line.) Any RV supply store including Walmart in the RV section sells an adapter. You want a 15 amp female socket to 30 amp male plug adapter. You plug your tester into the adapter and the plug of the adapter into the 30 amp outlet in the campground site electric box.

It is time to talk about what you will see when you open the door of the electric box. Most boxes will be set up for three types of amperage service - 20 amp (house type socket), 30 amp, and 50 amp. There will be three sockets inside and each will have its own circuit breaker switch. The 30 amp outlet is generally in the middle. It will have holes that match your plug and will be the same size around as your plug. The 50 amp outlet is for a much larger RV. There is a way to use that outlet for your 30 amp RV if there is no other, but I am not going to make this anymore confusing right now. The 20 amp outlet could also be used, but you will not have enough amperage in your Roadtrek to use all of the electrical appliances without tripping that circuit breaker - so for the moment - forget that too. You want the outlet that matches your Roadtrek plug. There is ONLY 110/120 volts coming out of any of these outlets - it is the amperage that changes. This is just like the current in your house, and can give you a serious shock if you are not as careful as you are plugging a plug into the wall of your house - but no more so. Before plugging anything in, make sure all circuit breakers are OFF. Even the ones you will not be using.

Now, when you are ready to test with your polarity tester, you plug into the 30 amp outlet with your tester connected through the adapter and then turn on the circuit breaker. Look at the result, and turn off the circuit breaker. If there is a problem with the reading, stop right there and go to the campground office and let them know. You need to be moved to another site or someone from the campground needs to come and fix the outlet.

The next test you will make is to check that the correct amount of voltage is coming out of the outlet. Again, you will need your adapter. You need a voltage meter. I found out that other than in RV supply stores, these are not easy to find and can be expensive. What I did was buy an item found at most big box stores called a "Kill A Watt". This is a multi-meter sold to check how much electricity different appliances use in your home. When it is plugged between an appliance and an outlet, it will show how many watts are being used by that appliance and since you pay your electric bill per watt you consume you can find out why your electric bills are so high. BUT this is not what we want this little meter for. If you plug this unit just into an outlet, one of the readings it will give you is how many volts are coming through. It has a digital readout. So I take my adapter, plug that socket into the Kill A Watt plug and then plug the 30 amp end of the adapter into the campground 30 amp outlet. Turn on the circuit breaker switch and look at the readout. The reading should be no lower than 110 and no higher than 132 - though you really do not want to be over 130. Turn off the circuit breaker and unplug the adapter from the electric box. If the reading is not correct, again, go to the campground office. Plugging into this outlet will damage your RV.

Everything OK with the tests? Then you are ready to hook up your power line. But WAIT!

Now, what? How complicated is this?, you must be thinking. You could just plug your power cable into the box, but it is a good idea to have something in your electric line that will protect your RV just in case. What you need is an RV power protection device. There are two popular makes - Surge Guard and Progressive. Both do the same job. Some prefer one over the other. There are models that can be wired permanently into your RV electric system and there are portable models that simply plug into the campground outlet and you plug your power cord into the protector outlet. These are not cheap and they are much, much more than a surge protector like what you plug your computer into at home. You can purchase these directly from the companies that make them or you can find them at RV supply stores. We chose the Surge Guard but only for convenience in ordering as it is the one that is sold at Camping World.

Above you see the Surge Guard plugged into the power outlet of the campground and the power cord of my Roadtrek. You also see that the electric box has your space number on it. You cannot mistake which box is the one you are supposed to plug into. At some campgrounds your box will be next to the box for the next space. Here there is only one box.

The power protector unit is going to monitor the voltage coming out of the box. Believe it or not, just because it tested correctly when you checked with your volt meter does not mean that conditions do not change in the voltage at the campground and the voltage go too low or too high. Also it will protect from spikes and surges due to lighting strikes. This is a must have. Repairing your RVs electric system and replacing your TV and electronics is far more expensive than the $300 plus that one of these sells for. You can buy a lock box that will prevent the theft of your portable power unit. Watch this video about the Surge Guard Power Protector.


 The Battery Disconnect Switch is on the above panel located to the right of the side Roadtrek door and it is the switch furthest to the RIGHT. When the switch is ON the red indicator light on the right of the switch lights. The switch says "Battery" and Battery Disconnect switch as it is known, is a poor name for what is does.

When you have your power cord into the protector unit and then plug that into the campground box, you turn on the circuit breaker in the campground box. With the Surge Guard on my model an LED comes on to show that it is connected. There is a two and one half minute delay until power is sent to the RV. This is a safety feature to protect your air conditioner. After the very long two and a half minute wait, a second LED lights and there is a click. There is now 110 volt power in the Roadtrek. You can now run anything in your Roadtrek from the 110 volt outlets. If you exceed 30 amps you will trip the circuit breaker - likely both inside your Roadtrek and outside in the box. Everything that you plug in takes away some of those amps. Most electric appliances have the number of amps it will use printed somewhere on it.

Now you have your AC current running from the campground. If you have cable service at the campground you next will connect your Roadtrek to the cable connection on the electric post. We have been at sites where the cable connection is split and we connect right next to where the next door RV is connected. This is fine. There is a box in the rearmost outside side compartment with a coaxial connector. You must supply your own cable and you can buy this anywhere. It is the same coax cable used for your cable TV in your home. Open the box in the Roadtrek compartment. You can see the box here on the right. Screw one end of the cable onto this connector. You can get push on adapters for these connectors and they work a lot easier but the screw on connector is more secure. Next, connect the other end of the cable to the campground connector. That is all you need to do to connect. To use the cable you must go into your Roadtrek, make sure the A/B switch that switches from rooftop antenna to cable is switched correctly, and turn on the TV. Set the settings on the TV to SOURCE: CABLE and then scan for channels. Always scan for channels. You do not need a special cable box like you do at home. The campground is converting the cable companies decoded digital signal to an analog signal that does not need a converter box at each TV. Do not be surprised when you see that the signal through the cable is Analog.
Electric and Cable all Hooked up - Campground End

Electric and Cable all Hooked up - Roadtrek End

Notice that the wires come down through the bottom opening of the compartment allowing the compartment to be closed and locked. Feed them down and through when making your connections.

Now, you have all of the electric hooked up and we when we stay at campgrounds, this is where we stop. We fill our two water tanks at home before we leave and refill them as they empty along the trip from the campground fresh water spigot. We do this because we come and go from the campground every day to sight-see. When we leave in the morning to see the sights or visit and attraction, all we need to do to unhook to leave is to unplug and put the wires away for the day. When you unplug - always click the circuit breaker in the campground box OFF before pulling the electric plug. This is just a safety precaution. If we also had the water connected it would take a lot more time to disconnect the hose, drain the water from the hose, and coil it up to put it away.

If you would like to hook up to the campground water supply the process is simple. What you need:

25 foot drinking water hose - these hoses are specially made with out lead and chemicals in the hose that can be harmful. The hoses are generally white in color with blue markings. Make sure the packaging of the hose states "Safe for drinking water". You may want one or more shorter lengths of hose also - they start at 4 feet, go to 10 feet, and go to 25 feet.

Pressure Regulator Valve - limits water pressure to no more than 40 psi so that the RV plumbing will not be damaged. Inexpensive ones can be found at all RV supply stores and Walmart. There are better valves with gauges and that can adjust different pressures. Your choice. We have been using a brass one that is found at Walmart.

In-line Hose Water Filter - optional - Available at RV supply stores and Walmart. This is a blue plastic filter that has screw on connections at each end. It comes with a reusable flex connector. You can buy packages of refills or just purchase the same kit again when the filter is dirty. You should get a year or more out of one of these filters depending on use.

The Roadtrek came with a snap on hose connector set screwed on to the City Water Fill. These are available at RV Supply stores also. You may not want to use one from a garden store, as it may not be lead free and drinking water safe. If you have one, snap off the end that connects to the hose and screw that to the end of your hose.

Connect your water connection AFTER connecting your electricity. You don't want to be standing in water puddles while you are plugging in your electric connections.

To hook up to the campground water - called "City Water" - you are going to connect from your Roadtrek City Water fill connection to the campground fresh water (or potable water) spigot. I use an additional four foot hose just to make it easier with all of the interconnections to be made. I carry two ten foot hoses, one four foot hose, and a twenty five foot hose. You will rarely, if ever, need all of these together (though at my house to reach the outside water faucet I need an additional 25 foot hose that we keep at home). You should also carry spare hose washers to keep the connections from leaking.

I connect the water filter connection to the campground water faucet. To the filter I connect the four foot hose and be sure to connect the filter with the arrows in the direction of the flow. At the end of the four foot hose I connect the pressure regulator. The pressure regulator must be connected in the right direction also and there are arrows to follow on the regulator. The ten or twenty five foot hose then goes on to the end of the pressure regulator and the other end of that hose goes on the the City Water connection of the Roadtrek which is pictured to the right. Both parts of the snap on cap are in place in this photo and you can also see a plug that is supplied with this connector by Roadtrek to plug into the end to keep road dirt out of your water supply. The connector makes this connection easier so that you do not have to reach into this tight space and screw the end of the hose to the inlet. So far this snap connector has not leaked. Once you have the hoses connected. You need to make sure that the City Water VALVE is in the correct position. That valve is pictured below in the top center of the photo and this is the correct position for the valve to be in to let water flow into your plumbing and to your sink and toilet. If this valve is in its other position it will not flow water into your plumbing but will fill your rear and eventually your front fresh water tank. I learned this the hard way on the first night we had the Roadtrek and watched as water overflowed my rear tank and shot all over the ground out of the relief valve. (There is a better way to fill your fresh water tanks - use the openings - one in the side of the driver's door frame and one in the frame of the passenger side, rear, cargo door frame. You just push a hose into the hole and let the water flow in until it comes up to the top of the opening. Shut it off quickly or stand back to not get wet.) When using a City Water connection you DO NOT turn on your water pump. If you are using water from your tanks, that is when you use the water pump.

That is it! You are completely hooked up.

Newer Roadtreks cannot and do not remain hooked up to the sewer connection at the campground site. The newer Roadtreks have a macerator which grinds up sewage and do not use a gravity feed hose to flow sewage from the tanks to the dump hole. The macerator pumps the waste out and uses a much thinner hose than a standard RV dump hose. With newer Roadtreks - post 2007, I believe - you only open the sewer hole when you are ready to dump. Older Roadtreks have a standard gravity dump system. With these you can connect your sewer hose to the dump hole, open your grey tank valve (not toilet waste but just water from the sink and shower drains) and let water flow as you use it. You do not open your black tank valve until your are ready to dump as you do not want your black tank - toilet waste tank - to ever dry out. Some caution about sewer gases coming into the RV if you connect to the sewer and leave it that way while you are using the RV. Others say there is no problem and no odor.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


When you are sure the cold weather has past and there will be no more freezing nights (or days), it is time to de-winterize your Roadtrek. We waited until the third week in April. Despite the warm days in the beginning of April - some way beyond normal, there were a few near freezing cold nights mixed in. We we had no reason not to wait, so we waited just to be sure.

The process of de-winterizing the Roadtrek is easy. You are just removing the anti-freeze that you put into the water lines and plumbing when you winterized as the cold weather is setting in. The special RV anti-freeze that you use to winterize is non-toxic, but that does not mean that you want to drink it. You want to remove every bit of that pink stuff from your plumbing.

We were given instructions about what to do from the gentleman at dealer service who taught us how to winterize the Roadtrek. I went online and looked at several videos and read several sets of instructions to see how these compared and they were similar. What we decided to do was combine some of the better sounding ideas into our process. The following is what we did.


1. Keep the Hot Water Tank BYPASS in BYPASS MODE to start.

2. Turn the Interior water tank valve to SUMMER MODE. This is a red handle valve located in the lower cabinet (under the front of the bed area) where the hot water heater and water pump are located. The handle should be parallel with the pipe that it is on when in SUMMER MODE. This allows water to flow from the rear interior tank into the front exterior tank. (THIS IS FOR ROADTREK 190s ONLY). Also turn the small black valve to the left of red handle so that it is in line with the pipe. This is the interior tank transfer valve. See the two valves below:

3. Fill the fresh water tanks with fresh potable (drinking) water using your drinking water hose(s) connected to your house outside hose spigot. If you have a Roadtrek 190, as we do, you have TWO fresh water tanks. One in the front and one in the back. One called the exterior tank (front). The other called the interior tank (rear).

4. With fresh water in the tanks, and still leaving the HOT WATER BYPASS IN BYPASS POSITION, turn on your Battery Disconnect Switch and your Water Pump Switch. (If your batteries are low, connect your Roadtrek to shore power using an exterior outlet at your house or turn on the generator. If you need to connect to 11o volt outside power, make this connection before you start doing anything with water.)

5. Turn on the cold water side of the sink. The water pump will rumble a bit, air will shoot out the faucet, and then water will flow. Pink water will be coming out. Allow this to run until the water is clear. Next turn the sink faucet handle to hot and allow the hot side (which will be cold) to flow with water. Again this will be pink. Allow this to run until you do not see pink and the water is clear. Shut off the sink.

6. Repeat Step Five with the shower. Open the drain plate in the floor, make sure the shower stopper is open and point the shower into the floor drain. Have a partner turn on the cold water handle of the shower. Again, pink will flow until clear water comes out. Do the same with the hot water handle. Shut off.

7. Flush the toilet. Pink will swirl around the bowl and clear water will start to flow.

8. If your Roadtrek is a model with a bathroom sink, repeat Step Five with the bathroom sink.

9. Repeat Step Five with the outside shower.

10. NOW - Turn your HOT WATER BYPASS VALVES so that they all are pointing toward the aisle. There are three valves. As you can just about see in this photo there is one at the top, one in the middle and one at the bottom. Yes the one in the middle is in a different position than the other two (the one on the pipe that goes up and down). It also needs to point to the aisle.

Now some are going to question why we waited until this step to set the hot water heater back into the system from bypass and the reason is this. The hot water heater tank fills with six gallons of water and at the start of this process there is antifreeze in the water pump and the lines leading around and into the hot water heater (if it is not in bypass). Why put that antifreeze into the hot water tank when you need to get it out. So, by leaving the hot water heater in bypass until NOW, you have cleared the antifreeze from those lines before the hot water heater. My next step may surprise some as well.

11. Turn off the WATER PUMP.

12. Take you fresh water hose and connect it to the Roadtrek City Water Intake connection on the outside of the Roadtrek in the rear side compartment. MAKE SURE YOU ATTACH A WATER PRESSURE REGULATOR TO THE HOSE BEFORE ATTACHING IT TO THE ROADTREK.

13. Turn on the water at your house outside faucet and send water through the hose and into the Roadtrek.

14. Go inside the Roadtrek and turn on the cold water faucet in the sink. Water will now flow from the city water line and not through the shut off water pump and will flow through our sink faucet into your sink. This is just to see that the water is connected outside correctly and water is flowing as it should be.

15. Move the sink handle to HOT. DO NOT TURN ON THE HOT WATER HEATER SWITCH THERE IS NO NEED. (We don't want hot water, we just want water flowing through the hot water tank now and into your faucets.) There will be a great burst of air that will come from the faucet. It will take a little while for the six gallon hot water tank to fill and water to start coming out with any force from the sink faucet with the handle on HOT. Be patient. It will come. And remember it will be cold water. Check to see if the water is pink. It may be. There may have been some antifreeze in the bypass pipes. It should very quickly run clear.

16. With the water still running through the city water connection - connected to your house - repeat Step Five above with the toilet, the inside shower, and the outside shower.

17. Shut off the water from your house and disconnect the hose from the city water line. You have finished de-winterizing the Roadtrek. Shut off your battery disconnect switch.

Yes, this is all there is to de-winterizing. BUT your fresh water tanks have been sitting for several months without water in them and mold and bacteria can form in the tanks during this time. What you need to do now is SANITIZE the fresh water tanks. And the procedure for this follows.


What you will need:

- Chlorine Bleach (Clorox or any equivalent)
- A Funnel (we made one up using a kitchen funnel and attached a piece of vinyl tube to the end that will easily get into the door fills for the fresh water tanks.
- A Measuring Cup

1. Open the driver's door water intake hole and place the end of the funnel into the hole.

2. Measure ONE HALF CUP of Bleach into the cup.

3. Pour the bleach into a gallon bottle and top off with water. Pour the water/bleach slowly into the funnel and down the hole. Do not let this splash on you or allow the end of the funnel to come out of the intake hole in the door. (This is why we made up the funnel with the tube. And because we are both relatively short, I stood on a step stool to make sure I was well above the opening to get the bleach in and straight down.

4. If you have a Roadtrek 190, as we have, repeat STEPS ONE, TWO, AND THREE at the back cargo door water intake. You have now added one half cup of bleach each to each of the two fresh water tanks.

5. Connect your fresh water hose to your house and top off (fill to the top) the two water tanks.

6. Just for a little mixing, I drove the Roadtrek down the driveway stopping quickly every few feet to shake up the water in the tanks and did the same driving back up the driveway. The Roadtrek bounced on its springs a few times and the water mixed in the tanks.

7. Turn on the water pump. Open each facet - sink - hot on, off then cold, inside shower - hot on, off then cold, flush the toilet, outside shower - hot on, off then cold. Allow all but the toilet to run until you smell bleach in the water coming out. It should be a very noticeable odor in the water. NO NEED TO TURN YOUR HOT WATER HEATER ON - WATER FLOWS INTO AND OUT OF THAT TANK ANYWAY. THE HOT WATER WILL JUST BE COLD.


9. After four hours, drain your fresh water tank(s). To do this in my Roadtrek 190 P, we opened the low point drain valve on the front fresh water tank that is located right under the rear corner of the driver's door under the chassis. On our Roadtrek there is a little black cap that is unscrewed off. It looks like the cap to a shampoo bottle. Water will start running out as soon as you loosen the cap. I understand that on some older Roadtreks there is no cap but there is an actual valve to turn. We do one more thing to drain the tanks as the low point drain is slow. We turn on the battery disconnect switch, turn on the water pump, and turn on the outside shower. This will run water with force down onto the ground and empty the tanks. (With the outdoor shower and the tank drain open it took about 15 to 20 minutes to empty the tanks.) IF you decide to use the outside shower, as the water starts to slow down, go inside immediately and TURN OFF THE WATER PUMP. You do not want the water pump to ever run dry. Water will continue to flow out of the low point tank drain and a little will still flow out of the pipes through the outside shower. The water at the tank drain will come down to a drip and then stop. REPLACE THE DRAIN CAP. (You will get wet during Step 9! Also be aware this is water with bleach coming out - if it gets on your clothing it can take the color out so be prepared - and don't get splashed in the eyes!)

Note - with your Roadtrek water tanks set to SUMMER MODE (see above De-Winterizing #2 with photo), the rear fresh water tank flows into the front fresh water tank. You are emptying both tanks at the same time with this Step 9.

10. Check your monitor panel inside (Battery Disconnect ON). Press the TEST button and you should see Fresh 1 and Fresh 2 at the bottom EMPTY LED. (If you have only one tank as some Roadtreks do then you will see Fresh 1 empty.)

11. Fill your tank(s) with clean, drinking water again.

We had a problem at this point. The tanks and pipes were filled with air. We filled the front tank first and when we went to fill the rear tank, we could not get water to go in without immediately rushing back out at us. We tried several things and eventually got the water in the tank - what we tried - partially drained the front tank - opened the faucets to allow air out - moved the Summer Mode handle to Winter mode to isolate the rear tank - poured water in with a funnel. I cannot say what finally got what had to be a huge air bubble to clear, but the tank started filling with the hose in the opening and we got it filled.

11. You are going to repeat Step 7 again, but this time you are smelling for no bleach smell. Let the clean water flow for several minutes at each faucet - hot and cold separately - until you smell NO bleach. If you continue to smell bleach you are going to need to repeat Steps 10 and 11 again. We found the bleach smell to be hardly noticeable after several minutes and then not really noticeable at all. The hot side tended to continue to have the bleach smell longer.

13. Drain the tanks again repeating STEP 9.

14. At this point you are done. We decided to fill the fresh water tanks again in preparation for a trip that we were taking a week later.


Notice that nowhere did I talk about emptying the grey or black waste tanks. There is antifreeze and water in them. This can be dumped the first time you dump or you might dump them now. If you do dump your waste tanks, pour a gallon of water down the toilet so that the black tank does not sit dry. As we wanted to start out our next trip with empty tanks, we did dump the grey and the black waste tanks using the built in macerator. A great deal of pink came out with the water. This was the antifreeze that we had put into the waste tanks to protect them when we winterized.

How long did this all take - de-winterizing and sanitizing? It took us the better part of three full afternoons. One reason is that this was our first time doing this. Another reason is that there are steps that require waiting. We wanted to start the sanitizing so that we could drain the tanks right at the four hours. (You probably could leave this overnight.) So we did the de-winterizing on day 1, the bleach went into the tanks and those tanks were drained and refilled with fresh water on day 2, and we did Step 10 above and onward on day 3. This will all go much quicker next year. For one thing we have all the steps down (right here). The other thing we encountered is that we are dealing with 60 plus year old outdoor plumbing connections at my house that leak. We spent some time during all this reducing the leaking to a minimum. We also spent time connecting enough white drinking water safe hoses together to reach the 85 feet to our Roadtrek on the driveway from the back of our house where the leaky water spigot is. Of course, each day we stopped those got disconnected, rolled up and put away. The bubble in the rear fresh water tank also took some time to do battle with. Hopefully, that was a one time thing - as it has never happened to us before (though we have never had the Roadtrek completely empty of fresh water before and needed to refill it right then). I do have some ideas about making the filling process of the fresh water tanks easier. I will be working on that and share with you all what I come up with.