I drive our 40-foot diesel pusher. Since we don’t tow the Jeep, Eric and I have taken turns with the two vehicles since we started full-timing.
It’s one thing to drive our RV. But it’s a whole other thing to unhook everything and get it on the road in an emergency. Like many couples, the interior is my domain on moving day, while Eric packs up everything outside.
Over the past few years, I’ve thought about asking Eric to show me how all the hookups work. I had some idea, since this has been our home for so long, but I never got around to learning the details.
That Time I Had to Move the RV by Myself
Eric went out of town all weekend for a Jeep event. Saturday morning, I was boiling a pot of water. The burner was on high, but I noticed the flame was low. We were running out of propane.
This was really bad for two reasons:
- Propane delivery is every Friday. We had missed the truck, and it wouldn’t be back for almost a week.
- The temperature was going down into the 30’s that night. In the forecast, the high for the following Tuesday was 30 degrees, with a low of 22. The few times we’ve had temperatures that cold, it was hard to keep our living room warm even with the propane heater.
I went to the campground office to see what my chances were of getting the delivery truck to come back. No chance. I called a local propane delivery company to see if they could come out. They were running behind and couldn’t help that day.
We needed propane by that night at the latest and Eric wasn’t coming back for two more days. I had no choice but to pack and move the RV by myself, to drive to the campground propane fill station.
Was I Nervous?
I really didn’t want to move the RV. It’s a pain even with Eric here. But when I finally made the decision, there wasn’t room to be nervous. I knew I had to get it done.
It helped that the hookups outside were already connected. I knew I just had to memorize how they were when I found them, so I could put them back the same way when I got back.
How Did It Go?
I’ve left out one crucial part of the story. My mom was visiting from Corpus Christi for the weekend, and her presence made all the difference. She helped me back out of our site, and watched Caspian while I was driving the RV to and from the fill station.
With her help, the process went smoothly. I didn’t pack up the inside like I normally would on moving day. I basically just put everything where it wouldn’t break. I even left a few things on the counters because I knew I’d be driving slowly over a short distance.
These are the things Eric normally does, which I had to figure out for myself:
- Storing the hydraulic leveling jacks
- Moving our wooden jack pads out from under the RV
- Turning off the breaker, disconnecting and storing the electrical cord
- Disconnecting and storing the cable cord
- Closing the gray tank valve and disconnecting the sewer hose
- Turning off the water spigot and disconnecting the fresh water hose
What Did I Mess Up?
Putting everything back together was harder than taking it apart (hmm, sounds like a profound life lesson). Overall, I’m pretty pleased with my ability to swim, having been thrown into the deep end. But I wasn’t able to get everything right:
- Normally when we park, I walk around the whole RV to make sure the slides and bay doors are clear. Since I was in the driver’s seat this time, I forgot about the bay doors. With the way I parked, the door to the wet bay is too close to the electrical stand and doesn’t open all the way.
- I put the jack pads back underneath the RV and (with the help of the neighbor) got the jacks down to support the weight of the coach. But I had no clue how to actually level the RV. So walking through the inside of the RV was like climbing a mountain until Eric got home.
- I temporarily messed up the water connection. When taking the hose off, I thought I had to unscrew it. But it’s actually a quick disconnect you just have to pull down for release. When I put the hose back on, there was a leak. So I kept the spigot off and used the water pump until Eric got home.
Why Does All This Matter?
Anything can happen at anytime. RV life is notoriously unpredictable. In four years, we’ve had a big breakdown, abandoned a wild camping site, and evacuated from a hurricane.
I’ve seen conversation about both spouses being able to drive their RV. But being able to unhook and pack up is also part of the equation. Until this past weekend, I never though much about it; I never learned exactly how; I never practiced.
My hope is that my experience will cause you to prepare yourself. There’s no room for panic in a true emergency. Be ready, so you can think clearly, taking care of your loved ones and property.
Robert M Gonzales
Great food for thought. Thanks for sharing!
Great job overall. My wife drives as well, but might run into the same issues you did. One question though. Did I understand that you do not flat tow the Jeep? Why not?
Yes, that’s correct. We do not tow our Jeep. When we started in 2014, it was because our Jeep Commander was not 4-wheel drive. We would’ve needed a lube pump that was expensive and (we found out later) notorious for breaking. We do have a 4-wheel drive Wrangler now–we got it summer 2016. We’ve discussed towing, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. We only drive 250 miles every two weeks, so it isn’t inconvenient to drive separately. In fact, it’s really handy for scouting ahead and that sort of thing.
So important! We always share hookup (and un-hookup) duties, and I’ve made sure I know how to remove our tow bars correctly (they can get loaded with a lot of torque and it would be easy to hurt yourself!). The only area I’m not practiced in is backing up the trailer – I drive forward, but backing into spots is always something my husband does.
@disqus_qikNn1OCHI:disqus, it sounds like you’re all over this. I hear you on the parking, though. I’ve gotten in the habit of jumping out at the campground entrance or office, and letting Eric park. I can do it, but always need a lot of guidance from my spotter.