Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Pre-Season Opener For My Roadtrek

It has been a very long and difficult winter in the Northeast this year. My Roadtrek has been winterized since mid-November and it has only been off my driveway for a single day - there and back the same day - trip in early December.  We enjoyed that trip in December and since then have been looking to do it again.

We usually take these one day trips in the car, but with the car being a little uncertain for long distance trips, we have decided that we might as well take the Roadtrek and put some driving hours on it rather than it just keep sitting on the driveway. Using it just to drive around town is not easy here as just getting it off our driveway and into the steady flow of traffic at most hours of the day can take up to 30 minutes to safely have a clear enough opening to back it out and get it on the road. We had hoped to be able to do a repeat trip in January. The weather was not cooperating. Despite some warmer days in February, that month did not work out. We were sure that when March came we were going to be able to do it and we had four Nor'easter snow storms in March with no hope of going anywhere - including one on the first day of Spring. With April coming we were really hopeful and until just now, April has been cold and raining - too cold to even consider de-winterizing. But then there was a forecast like no others in the recent past - it was going to become suddenly warm and not raining - maybe even hot - not necessarily here where the ocean influences the temperatures this close to the coast, but inland. Inland was good - inland was where we would like to go. This sudden gift was only to last two days because following this phenomenon the temperatures would drop again into the 40's and perhaps lower once again with a two day rainstorm. Circumstances here - as they often do - were not going to let us take advantage for more than one single day. It would be out and back in the same day - as it was in December - but one day was good. One day was wonderful considering!

We knew where we wanted to go - one of our favorite haunts in Pennsylvania which to most would make them wonder why - but during those snow storms and those cold days and nights, if someone asked me where would I rather be - it was there. It was outdoors. It put me in the middle of people that I very much like interacting with and being around. We were going!

We left at 9:30 in the morning- to avoid the heaviest of Metro NY rush hour traffic - and off we went. Getting out of the driveway only took ten minutes after a steady stream of cars whizzing by. I had plugged the Roadtrek into the outside house outlet two days before and let it sit for 24 hours plugged in so that the batteries would be fully charged and there would be no problem running our Roadtrek's compressor fridge on batteries for the trip. There were plans to bring back some foods that are not available here. After an hour and a half this fridge reaches temperature.

As always, traffic getting out of NY was heavy but at least moved. The trip should take no more than three hours - but it generally takes four to four and a half hours - not counting the time to get out of the driveway. As I have written in the past, the trip is bang, bang, vibrate on the roads in New York. Once into New Jersey the ride gets noticeably better. In Pennsylvania with a newly repaved PA Turnpike it gets much better. The PA Turnpike - I suppose because of its new road surfacing -increased the speed limit for most of the part we drive on to 70 miles per hour. The 6L engine in my Roadtrek 190 Popular handles that speed very nicely - in fact it is too easy to get to 80 and not realize it - and it handles that speed nicely also , but I am never comfortable driving it at that speed and pull it back down. One thing that is odd, however, on the PA Turnpike with this new speed limit is that some cars and trucks do not want to drive at it. In fact they are driving below 65 - and more like 60. This was not making me happy. With one day and the long a drive to get there, I wanted to be at least the speed limit. Where I live the speed limit is 55 mph. At any time of the day or night local drivers see that sign and see 65 and faster. Most of the roads here are not made to go that fast but fast most go. I try to avoid having to keep up with that at times here can be more dangerous than not - and I not just in the Roadtrek. But here I was with a legitimate 70 mph speed limit which if it was ever to be the speed limit here would translate to 95 or 100, and I was sitting behind 60 mph drivers. It was not just the time of day because the same happens when we head home - and we travel later at night most trips when we are heading home.

When we arrived it was after 1:30 pm and it was 82 degrees outside. Oh my! The sun was shining. The place we were going was hoping and I was looking forward to a wonderful day - which we had. The trip down, at least past NY, the Roadtrek rode smoothly. Parking is in a large gravel and grass parking lot and we usually head down to the farthest section where it is open enough to park even a larger RV - and there are always a few RVs parked there - and there is no concern of being boxed in by cars or the narrow lanes that the rest of the parking lot has.

As we roamed around I realized that I have been in the house too long this winter and what is generally not tiring was really tiring me out after about two and a half hours. Not good - and I had to readjust to what it is like to be in over 80 degrees. I did find a bench and sat down and listened to two gentlemen talking about hunting and their tales of learning to hunt from their fathers. These are things one does not much get to hear being discussed where I live - and while I was not involved in this discussion at all, I did enjoy it. It was only fifteen minutes or so later that I was ready to leave the bench and get back to Meryl and keep going. (If you are waiting to hear of some catestrophe that happens on this trip - there was none.)  This was a nice slow day with me trying to pack in months of not being there. Overall we were at this one location for over four hours. Nothing important to do. Nothing spectacular to find or even seen. As a mostly city boy, I have always had a special place in my heart for sprawling farm land and things that are basically plain - and this all is all around people that are, with no negative connotation, "The Plain People". Beaches don't interest me. Mountains only marginally appeal - and generally don't more than do. This is where I need to be to really relax  and it has been for many, many years. And there I seek out being away from the tourists and get to be among the locals, and especailly the Amish and Mennonites of this area. I have met some. I am never intrusive. I don't gawk as some people do there. Any interaction and I am especailly respectful. And I am grateful that my good wife recognizes this in me and enjoys it as well.

Past 5 pm we headed to a favorite restaurant - again not a fancy restaurant but one that is really only known by the locals - and had a great dinner. After dinner I was not really ready to leave, so we started out the long way back. We drove past the campground we usually stay at. We even stopped at a store before we actually were on the road to go home. It was past 1:30 am when we arrived home. There was no traffic coming home -in fact some roads were surprisingly empty - yet we still found ourselves behind slow drivers with the road empty in front of them - and again, I don't mean slow because they were just at the speed limit - but well below the speed limit. I was in no hurry to get home but the last thing I like have happen in the Roadtrek is for anyone behind us to think it is us slowing them down - and resulting that  - they speed around us and cut in too close.

Last Spring I took the Roadtrek for a ride to the East End of Long Island to get it on the road. I realized after that it would have been so much better had we come to this area instead. Eight plus hours of round trip driving plus multiple bridge tolls and turnpike tolls - almost a full tank of gas - and it was all worth it.

The Roadtrek did not balk the whole time. This is not always the case, and surprises no matter how minor are more the norm than the exception. I think it liked its drive. Had it not been for the past weather, it would have been on several more trips like this.

I am still not sure when I will dewinterize. Most years I would have done it already. Since I am hearing low 40s or colder in the forecast, I am not running to do it. One of the advantages of even a single day trip with the Roadtrek is having a bathroom along for the ride, I figured that were we in need, we would just use it and not be that concerned. I could always through more A/F down into the black tank when we got home.

So this was not a real - sleep in the Roadtrek trip - but we did most everything we would do if we went there to stay overnight for two days. What I knew before but this trip made me more immediately aware of was that the CO Detector has expired and needs to be replaced - which we will do when we dewinterize. That the Roadtrek Roadside Assistance policy needs to be renewed - and we have not heard anything from them about it. That we discovered after our last regular RV season trip was that our walkie talkies no longer worked and we needed to replace them which I put off until we were ready to start traveling again. We use the walkie talkies to get the Roadtrek out of the driveway and into the street in front of our house (Meryl "OK it is clear RIGHT NOW - GO QUICK!!!") and when backing into a campground site, Meryl guides me in using the walkie talkies. I know which I am going to buy and we will be doing that pretty soon!

So thanks for rambling along with me. Nothing exciting - but isn't that nice!