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  • Writer's pictureTil Further Notice

Our Great New England RV Adventure: Part 1



We set the GPS for New England and started driving west from Colorado on the 8th of July. We were already well practiced at picking up and moving our home on wheels as our three month visit in Colorado involved over a dozen cross state moves as needed by family and medical reasons. 2300 miles to the furthest east point in Maine would only be the first leg of a ten month 5000 mile loop down the east coast to Florida then back to Colorado in the Spring.


Our departure was timed perfectly with the growing heat dome that was enveloping the southern plains and by the time we reached the Kansas border temperatures hovered over 100 degrees. For the next ten days we had no reservations and route selection and pace would be determined by weather and campground availability. Fast and loose was the plan.


We quickly fell back into a pattern of listening to audio books as we worked our way through the farmlands of Kansas and Missouri. For the first time in a long time we had no pressing maintenance needs and the miles came easy. The first night we found ourselves comfortably parked in Dodge City (Gunsmoke RV Park) which happens to be the birthplace of my Dad where my Grandfather was the teletype operator at the Dodge City Daily Globe. Severe weather then chased us north by northeast the following day to the Owl Creek RV Park Odessa Missouri where we had a two night respite that included dinner and stories with fellow Youtube content creators and photographers Craig and Shelley from KC .


Severe weather once again nipped at our heels and as we continued east to St. Louis then as the road veered slightly north through Southern Illinois we began to feel some relief from the extreme heat to the south. Tooth jarring cracks and potholes every fifty feet or so riddled I-70 through the entire state of Indiana and the Semi Traffic was so heavy that to go any slower than 60 m.p.h. felt unsafe. For the fifth wheel (“Tag Along”) the rolling earthquake began the moment we entered Indiana and continued until we hit the smooth new asphalt at the Ohio border.


For Tammy and I and Gracie and Jasper, 200 mile travel days are a big deal so you can imagine we were ready for a rest after several 300 to 400 mile travel days. Tammy booked a site for the next two nights from the passenger seat on our favorite App, RV Life Trip Wizard, as we floated on blissfully smooth asphalt through the pastoral countryside of central Ohio. Mt. Gilead State Park had one relatively cheap ($31) site available that we thought would fit us (65 ft. is what the website said). When we arrived at the park late in the afternoon and we were quite tired and from the parking spot at the office it looked tighter that I had anticipated. “Will we fit in our site and can we turn around” I asked the campground host and when he told me he thought we would be ok we proceeded.


There were a few big rigs in the heavily treed campground but mostly they were 20 ft. or smaller. What had been advertised as a 60 ft. site was barely longer than 30 and I told Tammy over the Walkie-Talkie that there was no way we could fit. And the turnaround spot at the end of the road would require a lot of meneuvering just to turn around. We were committed to backing into our site if for no other reason than to turn around. We also felt as though we were on center stage as fellow campers paid close attention to our every movement, probably half worried that we would end up hitting them and half waiting for something really entertaining to happen. Fortunately for us there were no trees at the rear of the site that might prevent us from backing up as far as we could, letting our rear end cantilever out over a drop off. “I got this” I thought to myself as flirted with the jackknife configuration in reverse. Then we both heard the crunching sound that I thought was the landing gear making contact with the ground. Once parked we quickly realized that the crunch was the front corner of the fiberglass rv cap where it had made contact with the corner of the in-bed tool box, out came the gorilla tape.


Once shoe horned into our site we loved being there. We had planned on staying two nights but the severe weather forecast to the north around Lake Erie gave us incentive to stay put for a third night. Other than a few short walks we stayed at the campsite the next few days catching up on computer work and visiting with the neighbors next door, a family from Wisconsin who’s teen son was competing in a national shooting competition at the nearby Cardinal Center, a premier and renowned shooting sports facility. In the end things always seem to work out!


A big part of RV life is learning from you mistakes. Once we were set up we sat down to gather our thoughts about what went wrong this time and here’s what we came up with:


Mistake #1 - We almost always preview our sites using Google Earth, campground reviews and the other tools available to us when we have a good internet connection. These steps were skipped because we were en route when we made the reservations. A simple search of reviews would have quickly informed us that this campground was not for big rigs.


Mistake #2 - Taking someone else’s word for where and how you can fit was a bad idea. I could have easily walked to the campsite for a visual inspection before committing all 55 feet of us to what lied ahead. The sight was only 35 feet long and the heavily treed access road was narrow and lined with occupied campsites. Had I previewed the situation I would have moved on to another campground.


Mistake #3 - Once I realized that I was committed to backing into our very short site if nothing else than to turn around I began a series of turns so sharp that I kept a close eye on my back window. I’ve learned from others who have shattered their rear truck window with the trailer cap when cutting it too sharp. What I didn’t even think about was that because the site was lower than the road the corner of the tool box on top of the auxiliary fuel tank could come into contact with the cap and that is exactly what happened.




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