Steep Adventure: RV Life Lesson's...the hard way.

October 08, 2018

Steep Adventure:  RV Life Lesson's...the hard way.

Week One Mantra:  Embrace The Chaos

How’s that going for me?  Hmmm….Maybe I get a B-:) However, we made it through week one of RV life safe but not even close to gracefully.

I thought I was fully aware of all the things that could go wrong when living on the road, and even considered myself mentally prepared for anything, you never really know until you’re in it… kinda like childbirth!

Now that we are one week in, I’d like to jot down the first of many lessons we’ll be learning on our steep adventure!

Lesson 1: you cannot rush when you are are on the road.

In classic Fitzgerald style, we broke the Teton Valley orbit in a hectic race against time.  Though everyone who has ever RV’ed warned us that you cannot rush when you are are on the road, we did anyway. This time my husband’s computer broke and we had to get to the store we bought it from before closing Sunday evening.  The store was 2 hours away. That’s the way it is when you live in an amazing mountain town! Most amenities are 2 hours away.

Heading out of Teton Valley.  Vote for Cindy:)!

After spending the evening dealing with computers and having the first of probably many ‘fast foodish’ dinners at Panera (chain restaurants are also 2 hours away....which is not a bad thing), we drove as far into the night as we could. Ends up at the ripe old age of 45 we only had until 9:00 in us! Now, to find our first stealth (aka free) spot to park the RV.

Thanks to an app some friends suggested (AllStay Truck & Travel) we found our first home away from home at the Flying J Truckstop off of I-80 in Twin Falls.  With the help of some nice employees who pointed us to the quieter side of the gravel parking lot, and ear plugs, we had a pretty solid night of sleep. We were even able to slip in a load of laundry!

Sidenote:  I am sure many of you parents are still dealing with bed wetters.  We are totally still in that realm and figured we may just have to resort to pull-ups once hitting the road. But,our son is so determined to stop that we decided to purchase a system calledTherapee (yes, it is spelled correctly).  I must admit that he is doing pretty well, BUT I must also admit that this adds another layer of complexity on travels as we now could use an APP for locating laundromats...especially the cool ones they have now with WIFI, craft beer on tap & coffee!

After waking up and using my awesome Orphan Lido 3 Grinder to grind my super yummy Doma Coffee Beans (Thanks to our amazing sponsorship by Doma Coffee) we were ready to start the long push to Reno where we were hosting a day of storytime, employee workshops and Bicycle Playdates for the employees at the Patagonia Reno Distribution Center.  

I got this RV living thing...thanks to DOMA Coffee:)

A small panic attack occurred when I realized I left my wallet where the laundry machines were in the the Flying J Truck stop.  I slunk myself in the store assuming it was gone...but to my surprise someone turned it in! I thought to myself, “this is a good sign….smooth sailing from here on out.” Yeah right!

The drive to Reno was a bit EPIC.  The wind was nuking which added an additional 2 hours of drive time with our 15,000 pound RV and Trailer show.  We were getting batted all over the place! Not to mention I totally turned into a 4 year old having a meltdown as a result of being stuck in a vehicle the entire day.  

Fitzy White Knuckled!

Let me further set the scene that many of you all know all too well:

  • Lots of stuff to deal with in your vehicle when on a road trip.
  • Nothing ever has a good place.  i.e. water bottles rolling all over, food crumbs everywhere, the dog NEVER really settles down and is always under foot, can’t find your phone charger.
  • Kids are antsy and wondering when you are getting there. Probably breaking things left and right as well...or is that just our 8 year old boy?
  • Everyone needs to pee at different times...including the dog.

Then add in the RV pulling a trailer factor and you add a few more things to the list such as:

  • The kid thinks it’s ok to get up and walk around...constantly telling him to get into his seat belts.
  • Still nothing has a good place even though you have a big RV!
  • What is that banging and jingling noise?  
  • Did we remember to put down the vents?
  • We must continue to home-school Braden even though we want to puke all over from the RV getting bounced around by the wind.  Luckily the kid is fine and happy as a clam:)
  • What is that smell?
  • Did everything just shift and come crashing down in the trailer?  
  • Maybe we should stop for the 17th time and check.
  • Still, the dog does not settle down even though we put the big dog bed on the floor!

Honestly, my 8 year old son holds it together better than I do on road trips.  We pull into Reno around 9:30 at night and luckily are able to pull into the driveway of our awesome contact at Patagonia.  It was so nice to pull in and see some normalcy...a cute family with an 8 month old living in a cute home, in a nice and quiet little neighborhood.  Well, it was quiet until we took out most of the low hanging branches of their beautiful front yard tree with our RV!

Lesson 2:  Always be aware of what’s above you.  (I thought I would have that one down as that’s the same rule that applies to back-country ski travel.  Ooops!)

The day is finally here!  Our first stop of the Raise Riders Tour.  After packing up and taking some nice hot showers at our wonderful hosts home we go to pull out to head to Patagonia,  and yes, we already forgot about Lesson 2.  When we pulled out we made sure we finished off a few more branches of that tree on the way out!  Not to mention our first paint job scratch and vent removal! With only one cup of coffee at that point, I was not too happy...as you can see here!  

Spending a bunch of time on the roof these days!

Is this how it’s going to be for 8 months?  Holy moly...I must admit, I was questioning many things.  Home sickness settled in pretty quickly :)

But as usual, the chaos and doubt melted away as we read our book Taking The Lead to the toddler and pre-school kids at the Patagonia Child care facility  (or maybe I have a bi-polar disorder). The kids and staff were amazing and immediately brought me back to why we were doing this. You can read Scott’s blog about our day at Patagonia here.

Once we packed up from our day at Patagonia we headed out for our 2nd night of ‘fast foodish’ dinner at In-N-Out Burger.  Oh yeah, Braden is loving the trip so far!

How else do you top off a day at Patagonia and a dinner at In-N-Out burger?  You pull your RV into a Cabela’s parking lot for the night! They allow overnight parking and I must say, the Reno location is very nice and even quiet. Yeah us!

Finally, we have our first day free to explore so we head to Truckee, CA to meet up with our buddy who has spent the summer building a new mountain bike trail there!  

Before heading out though, we have our first experience DUMPING the RV.  I must say I was a bit nervous for Scott (you don’t think I was out there with the rubber gloves do you?).  I assumed the evacuation pipe was going to explode off or even worse (not sure what’s worse though). Mission accomplished with no drama...this time!

Good times right here!

AND of course, there is a funky smell coming from our engine (or transmission)...AND of course we have to spend the morning at the Mercedes dealer...AND of course I realized the drama is never that far away!

Luckily we get the clear from the nice man at Mercedes in Reno and we make our way up Donner Pass to Truckee. The story of the Donner Party is an interesting part of the motor-homeschool lesson. Pretty cool.  What boy is not amazed by people eating each other:)

Our Truckee CA experience in a nut shell:

  • Pouring rain.
  • Closed sign at the Truckee Bike Park.  Which was torture, especially for Braden, as this place is absolutely amazing and worth a stop.
  • More pouring rain.
  • Rec center pool session with our buddy and his 5 year old.
  • Scott’s wallet gets stolen from his jeans in the Truckee Rec center locker room...yes...during kids open swim.  REALLY, and my wallet at a random truck stop gets handed it.
  • Raining even harder.
  • Luckily- ending with some quality time with some lovely, old friends:)

Lesson 3:  Take 10 deep breathes and take inventory of your stuff before you move on to the next thing.  Also, maybe get one of those travel wallets that you strap to your stomach!

After a couple of days of R & R with our friends in Napa Valley and FINALLY some mountain biking we all felt a bit human again!  No RV drama’s in Napa Valley.

This brings us current.  We spent this past weekend running family events at the Sonoma Vita Festival/ Levi’s Gran Fondo, in Santa Rosa, CA.  We will be posting a separate account of this awesome weekend. Other than the challenges of maneuvering a large rig in a metro area ...AND learning Lesson 4: Watch out for road signs along the side of parking spots as they may tear your awning off, we met amazing people, hung out with awesome little kids, tasted some great beer and wine, and looking forward to the next adventures and I am sure more RV life lessons!

Cheers, Jannine



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