We’ve been on the road for just a week and a half but boy, does it seem like longer. I’m writing from the Rocky Mountain RV Park in Gardiner, Montana. A trip like this is amazing and rewarding but A LOT of work. Very different from our trip to Bali last summer where we stayed in beautiful hotels, waded in the warm sea and had stuff brought to us. This trip is work.
There is a major learning curve to traveling with a trailer. We (mostly Alan) watched countless Youtube videos on black versus grey water systems and generators and back-in parking. Nothing prepares you for towing a trailer, backing the thing into a parking spot then hooking it up to water, power, sewer. You just have to dive in and do it. It’s good for us. A trip on the road is making me and the kids hearty and tough. Alan already is hearty and tough. Things go wrong, things break down. We’re in a 1966 trailer for godsakes. Many things have gone wrong and broken down.
Even with a brand new vessel, it’s work. If you’re lucky enough to score a pull-through site, you park pretty easily. If not, you’ll probably spend a good half hour backing in, making mistakes, pulling out, starting over until you get it right. If you’re staying for a few days you unhook your truck and lay down your levelers. Then if you’re in a site with hook ups you do all that. Alan does all that. It takes about another half an hour.
I should’ve listened to my mom. She said ‘why don’t you take a few short, weekend trips to work out the kinks of the Airstream?’ Yeah, that would’ve been smart. Instead we hit the road with our two kids on a three and a half week, 2000 mile trip, throwing caution to the wind. No real itinerary – just a basic idea of getting to Yellowstone in the peakest of peak season.
So far, ten days in, two doors have flown off and lay somewhere on the highway between Utah and Idaho. The bathroom sink and shower have leaks so the floors have rot we didn’t initially see or maybe it’s just gotten worse. Under the bathroom pipes from the rear we noticed mouse poop. I’m choosing to ignore this.
The refrigerator stopped working on day two. It’s not from 1966. No, it’s a 1986 Dometic. It looks super cool but is very temperamental. RV refrigerators are beyond Alan’s skill set so we’ve been going old school, putting pieces of block ice in bins inside the fridge and keeping the door closed. It’s worked pretty well so far. His grandfather was an ice man in the 1930’s so he knows what he’s talking about.
Every RV repairman we tried for help was backed up at least two weeks and couldn’t get us in. This is prime time in RV land. But one in Bozeman gave Alan some advice to ream out some tube in the back of the fridge. He tried it as a last ditch effort and it worked! We’re back in the cold food business!
We’ve seen beautiful things, which I’ll get to in the next post, but we’ve also spent many, many hours in the aisles of Home Depot, Lowe’s and in parking lots of small town RV repair shops begging for their help. This trip has been a ‘live and learn’ experience every day but still we are having a great family trip making memories for the kids.
The nice RV Parks we’ve stayed have loads of amenities for kids – pools, hot springs, playgrounds, miniature golf. They’re having a blast sleeping near us in their cozy beds, eating on picnic tables and playing old school with dirt and rocks. We have a no media rule when camping to attempt to reset their brains. But on really long travel days or when we’re stuck in a RV repair parking lot for three hours we give them their iPads – we’re not cruel!
Before this trip I thought, it’s Airstream or bust, but now I see it’s just about choice and preference. The big motor home pushers are nice. You really can take all the comforts of home with you but they’re huge! Ours is so small and light, I tow it with ease but it’s impossible to keep it tidy, which drives me crazy, with four humans and all our stuff. It’s a choice and I see the appeal now to many different options.
This trip has been a learning experience and a great adventure – a rodeo. We don’t know what we’re doing but we’re expectant. We dove in and through all our trials and setbacks we’re forging ahead and having a great time doing it. Tomorrow we will finally reach Yellowstone!