First time camping with our popup: "Trip from Hell!"

Discussion in 'First Time & New Camper Owners' started by contrarymary, May 18, 2016.

  1. contrarymary

    contrarymary It's just my name, its not who I am...

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    We just had “The Camping Trip from Hell”. Let me explain.

    1. Two blocks after leaving the house we realized we forgot two things and had to turn back to get them. (just the beginning)
    2. When we got over the mountain and onto White Sands Missile Range to play golf at their nice little course, a storm was moving in. It took about a half hour to get through security clearance. There had been a lightning strike nearby and there was a desert fire going further up on the mountain. We decided to have some lunch at the Frontier Club on base and reassess. Didn’t look good, so after about a 30 minute procedure to get cleared to get on base, we decided to leave.
    3. We stopped at White Sands National Park to get a “Golden Age Passport”, which we had heard was supposed to be distributed at the main gate. No one there. We went to the VC and they said, “hmm, no one there? They didn’t call me to let me know.” I’m sorry, but you’ll have to come back later.” NO problem, we thought, we’ll just come back on the flip-side.
    4. We get to the Oliver Lee SP, found a campsite, positioned the popup camper and began to set it up. When we were ready to raise the roof, nothing happened. After sometime, discovered the fuse was blown. Replaced the fuse and tried again. “ERRR.” Stopped after just a short burst. Another fuse gone. No more left. Get in the Explorer and head back to Alamogordo (about 15 miles) and go into Walmart. This one is larger than the one we usually go to, but of course Las Cruces has three, and they have a larger selection of RV equipment/supplies, but seem to be out of the 10 amp fuses. I am forced to buy a “variety pack” for $20.
    5. When we get back to the site, a storm is approaching and we are a little panicked. We replace the fuse and decide to disconnect from the campground power supply. In the past we had raised it using only the camper’s battery. We also “jiggle” the roof around and lift it manually a little just in case it is binding. It goes right up! Thank the Lord.
    6. We try to connect the campground water supply but nothing happens. The storm hits and we “button down the hatches”. We get at least 50 mph winds, driving rain and lightning all around us. Much larger RV’s pull up stakes and leave! The camper comes through like a champ, but Java, poor thing, was shaking like a leaf. Finally after about an hour, the storm passes and we go back to trying to figure out the water situation. We also try to turn on the refrigerator (120v feed). The water just isn’t doing anything. Finally, I take the hose off of the camper and there is no water running from the campground source! After fiddling around looking for a valve or something, Skip pulls the yard valve up hard and I’m holding the hose – it drenches me! We shut it off and reattach the hose to our camper and turn on the water. Success! Not so quick. We forget to put the new pressure regulator between the campground source and our camper and there is a huge whooshing sound followed by water gushing out of the back of the camper. *smh*.
    7. Good news is, it seems like the fridge is working , but we can’t hear it. We decide to try the campers water tank, which we had problems with before. Skip directs the water into the filler tube. The tank is supposed to be about 15 gallons and everything is running fine for about two minutes and suddenly whoosh! Back pressure from the tank gets Skip all wet. Top that off with more water leaking through the bottom and back of the camper. We shut down the source and go inside to try and figure out what is happening. We have never been able to find the water tank and the last place it could possibly be was next to the sink, under the bench that allows you to sit at the table. We take up the cushion and there is a plywood sheet there that is screwed down. I’m asking myself, “why would you screw down a cover on an area that had something that needed service – such as to open and close the tank drain. We get the plywood sheet off and of course, there is the water tank. The floor in there is all wet and the tank still has a little water in it. I find the drain valve and a hole drilled in the floor, just not in a spot where the drain is directed. “ARGH!!!” I close the drain and we proceed to clean up. Even after cleaning up for several minutes and going through half a roll of paper towels, the water is still coming out of the cubicle where the water tank is. I fiddle with the drain valve to see if I can figure out if what I think is shut IS shut and finally decide that yes, it was shut and that the water tank itself is leaking.
    8. It’s starting to get dark and we decide on a quick dinner, which we forgot one ingredient for. Nonetheless, it tastes good and we take some time to reassess what we should do. We decide that we will stick with our plan, after all, we are learning a lot about the camper. We go to bed early and Java curls up in her bed on top of the rug that we keep in the camper. We figure that the rug may get a little damp, but we think the water has pretty much drained out of the water tank. I awaken during the night and use the travel toilet in the camper – nice! Works fine.
    9. Next morning, Java wakes me at our usual time – 6:15, but she is upset and shaking. She jumps onto the nook bench and then up onto the bed where I am. She is all wet and shivering! I felt so bad for her and we didn’t bring any towels as we didn’t expect to need them. So I use my hoody to bundle her up and try and soak some of the water off her thick coat. She is still shivering and I’m starting to get worried about her. She finally settles down and I do as well. We have a cup of coffee and decide to have breakfast; while eating, we decided ti would be best to just pack up and leave given more storms were forecast. After breakfast, I start moving some things from our Explorer into locations in the camper where they can stay permanently. We get the drawers and cubbies cleaned first and before I know it we have things pretty well organized, so I am pretty happy with that.
    10. We start taking the camper down and back the Explorer up to the camper to attach it to the hitch. As we are cranking the tongue jack up to get over the hitch ball, the camper starts rolling backwards!! Skip reaches out and grabs it and fortunately the camper stops! It could still be rolling if it had gotten away from us! Our mistake: we took the chocks out from behind the right camper tire and the left camper tire was on a couple wooden blocks which we needed to level the camper. We quickly repositioned the chock under the tire. Whew!
    11. Fortunately, we were able to get our “Golden Age Passport” this time at White Sands. We took the camper directly to our RV repair shop and left it there. We let him know when we will be heading out for a trip next time and he said he thought he could fit it in.

    Yes, it was a trip from hell, but we learned a lot that I’m glad we didn’t have to learn 400 miles or more from home.

    1. We can deal with just about anything.
    2. The Fridge works – we think.
    3. The power cord converters work fine and the lights in the camper and power outlets work great.
    4. We finally found the damn water tank and now understand why the water pump wasn’t doing anything and why we couldn’t get any water through the sink.
    5. We have a clear organization with camper-devoted items in the camper to stay and a list of more things we need to buy that will help make us “camping ready” (e.g. towels, can opener, and other stuff) without much angst about packing.
    6. Our 2001 Explorer Sport handles the towing very well, but needs a couple of fixes to make it ready for a long trip.
    7. The camper tows nicely even with the slight shift in weight distribution.
    8. We need extended mirrors for the Explorer to see around the camper.
    9. The camper seems to weather wind and rain very well.
    10. Keep chocks in place until the camper is attached to the tow vehicle!

    It’s a good thing the guy and his wife that sold us this thing isn’t within punching distance!
     
    stacey short likes this.
  2. rjhammetter

    rjhammetter Husband, Dad, Engineer & Camper

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    Thanks for sharing your story. Appreciate hearing about others lessons. Sorry about the miserable time. Hopefully there is a silver lining somewhere. Maybe give it a little time and this story about frustration will be a really entertaining and funny one someday.
     
  3. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    Sorry to here about the miserable time. Pretty soon it will be talked about around the campfire in good spirits. The first trip or two is going to cause headaches until all the kinks get worked out. Then things will get easier.
     
  4. wl7cpa

    wl7cpa New Member

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    Quite detailed.
     
  5. GA Judy

    GA Judy Active Member

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    Doing is learning, and you sure proved you learned a lot. [:D] We've all had "trips from hell" and lived to laugh about them -- maybe not right away, but sharing stories around a campfire. Here's wishing you well that the repairs will be done and in time for your next outing with better weather. Weather is the culprit in most learning experiences once the hardware is done. Get yourself a weather alert device: smart phone, radio, TV (but that will go out). Watch Java for signs of incoming storms!
     
  6. generok

    generok Well-Known Member

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  7. contrarymary

    contrarymary It's just my name, its not who I am...

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    Lots of camping experience here - just none with any kind of RV. If it sounded like I was down about it - well, I was at first, but my husband (who has much less camping experience) and I have been laughing about a lot of it last evening. Thanks for the encouragement!
     
  8. sawdusty

    sawdusty San Antonio

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    I am a magnet for bad luck. Thankfully was able to do the Camp Driveway thing so had a few of the kinks worked out before the first trip. Glad you survived. Ever find out why the roof lift didn't work?
     
  9. contrarymary

    contrarymary It's just my name, its not who I am...

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    Never really determined why. I've isolated it to two factors: 1. Binding of telescoping supports or 2. overload through the campground power source causing the fuse to blow.
     
  10. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

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    The first time is usually hard. Now I'm camping to be near Strawberry festival this weekend. I set everything g up by myself and I love doing this. This is my 3rd popup and it's easy for me now. In time you will get to where I am now.
     
  11. inthedirt

    inthedirt Active Member

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    Always check polarity of the campsite power with an inexpensive tester and always check water pressure. Doing so prior to hooking up at campgrounds can save a lot of hassle. Of course, if you boondock, this won't be an issue.....
     
  12. WeRJuliIan

    WeRJuliIan If it's "Aluminum", why not "Sodum" and "Uranum"?

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    First of all, congrats on surviving your first trip! As others have said, the first few trips while learning your PUP can be the roughest but the best. Those lessons tend to stick with you and give you some great laughs afterwards! One of the best tips I got in the beginning was to pack like you're tent camping then start to whittle back as you find what you can keep in the pup or don't really need after all (plus a good set of tools in the TV). Ian and I also created a camping book where we keep our manuals and schematics should we need to do any repair away from home along with checklists for setting up and breaking down. You'll find your groove and then can relax and fully enjoy each trip.

    Happy Camping!

    Jules (The Lady from Little Rock) :)
     
  13. contrarymary

    contrarymary It's just my name, its not who I am...

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    Postscript: Got our popup back the other day in time for our 1400 mile trip. We feel more at ease for sure with how we can expect things to function. The shop indicated that the water connection and tank problems were probably not the result of anything we did, but more likely the way they were when we bought it. Although I feel some relief, it certainly reinforces the need to be insistent in having sellers demonstrate that everything works or at least "owning up" to deficiencies. We bought with our eyes wide open, with some expectations that there would be repairs needed - after all, we got a 2010 model for less than most of the 2005's were selling for. However, it doesn't remove the frustration and anxiety that accompanies bad experiences. Also, I'm so glad we didn't go far to learn these things.
     
  14. GaJeep94YJ

    GaJeep94YJ Member

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    Re: First time camping with our popup: "Trip from Hell!"

    That's funny. Thanks for the write up. Gave me a good laugh.

    Hope your next trip is better!

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
     
  15. mchance47

    mchance47 New Member

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    I'm sorry for your experience, but I feel the most sorry for Java. She's a trooper if she still voluntarily joins the family for your trips. You learned quite a bit in one painful chunk. Way to hang in there!!
     
  16. tombiasi

    tombiasi Well-Known Member

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    A bad day camping beats a good day at work.
     
  17. edh

    edh Active Member

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    The moral of the story is it's always a good idea to do a trial run in Camp Driveway at the start of every season, well in advance of the first planned trip so you have time to fix anything that pops up. Much easier to work in the driveway than the campground, and much less stressful when you're not rushing to get it ready for a trip.
     
  18. 97Widerider

    97Widerider Making Memories

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    Wow, now that is a post. Friends of ours had their dog bit by a rattlesnake on a trip and had to leave the grounds and drive 2 hours to a vet office open off hours. Dog almost died, but didn't. Cost them a small fortune. Thats a crappy trip.
     
  19. nineoaks2004

    nineoaks2004 Every meal is a picnic and every Day is a holiday

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    Sometimes it is better to just stay home (usually to darn late by then tho)
    Murpy's law does not apply in your situation, Schwartz's law does, Schwartz says Murphy is an optimist. Thanks for sharing and happy camping
     
  20. Morgan23

    Morgan23 Member

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    ^^so true!
    Sorry to hear your first trip was a doozy! Hopefully your next trips will be much better!
     

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